The success of a film can lead to a phenomenon of subsequent similar sounding themes. The success of Kammattipadam delivered this film about local goons. The makers of Amen tried their hand at realism with Angamaly diaries based on a screenplay by Chemban Vinod. Angamaly diaries is part of the long list of 2017 films that made a great difference at not just box-office but also the culture of movie goers. People started accepting different themes, movie making style, and realism. I bought the film after all the hype. Is it worth all the hype?
I guess a film’s quality is based on perspective and likeliness. Personally, I admired the style, the cinematography-editing combination, natural performances and the whole establishment Angamaly culture. From goons ruling the place to the food culture. But then, the movie is flawed in terms of storyline.
The film intentionally glorifies the activities done by goons and how they use influence and short cuts to escape the law. Vincent murders a man and they use the money to escape the case.
And the first half literally shows casual everyday sexism and misogyny. From Vincent Pepe’s sister being given 1/3 food he is given against her will, as a result, she grew up to be a very slim girl. Sons are seen as assets who bring revenue after all. Plus the film itself could be seen as a case study of what happens if sons are given *too much* liberty as supposed to letting daughters enjoy constitutional rights (like stepping outside the house etc). We see them get drunk at an early age and assault people, boys catcalling and eve teasing girls in groups (as a result, girls lose their liberty), and they grow to be goons who end up murdering a person. The film also glorifies several aspects like catcalling and peeking in lady’s bathroom. Vincent narrates it as one of the “fun” deeds he did with his friends, but for women who are victimised and slut-shamed, it is not funny. The film industry will continue to show “boys will be boys” brigade as much they like to show rapists get what they want. This makes one *facepalm*. One of the scenes that made me roll my eyes is the scene where Vincent confronts a man who sexually harassed a girl, who later becomes his girlfriend, in college. He says “you can ‘rag’ but can’t harass”. Wait, what? How can he bring “may rag” and “not harass” in the same context?
But then, there are uplifting moments like when Vincent’s sister says “I will marry only that guy who doesn’t ask for dowry” and she says “I will talk” when her father asks her to shut up. Then another moment is when Vincent respects his ex-girlfriend Seema’s rejection gracefully as opposed to general notion exhibited by films where men who get rejected are vilified, then when he breaks up with his girlfriend by talking mutual terms. And, the character Lichi (Reshma Rajan) is worth mentioning. She is an independent woman who takes care of Pepe and who expressed her love for him. Lichi is the strong woman in an environment of hyper masculine rowdies who slap their mothers and harass their wives (which cannot be justified or normalized). Anthony Varghese did a decent job in his debut work. Reshma Rajan has a lively presence. Every other actor performed naturally with Angamaly accent and looked as per the environment. The film marveled at the technical angle and the depiction of food and culture. Angamaly diaries is worth a look but not necessarily worth the hype. But, in terms of Malayalam film essence, it has brought something to the desk.