5 Healthy Portrayal Of Remarriage In Malayalam Cinema

From Spirit to Puzhu, here are five films from the Malayalam industry that narrate the tales of remarriage in a beautiful way.

By

Movies on remarriage take that extra step to show how love is not bound within a toxic relationship, or that happiness is not stripped off from those who are divorced or widowed. Borrowing words from Atlee’s Raja Rani, films on remarriage second thatThere is always another chance at love and life after a love (or marriage) failure”.

While some films depict remarriage and the changes in a character’s life in a light way, other films are more layered, with intricate details. Some of the recent Malayalam films like Take Off and Aarkkariyam portray remarriage in a better light, touching upon the formation of stepfamilies, relationships with former partners, and how these changes affect the young.

Here are five films from the Malayalam industry that narrate the tales of remarriage in a healthy and beautiful way.

Puzhu

Puzhu, on a broader perspective, discusses the casteist prejudices existing in modern society. Tracking the life of Bharathi (Parvathy Thiruvothu) who belongs to a Brahmin family and her husband Kuttappan (Appunni Sasi) from a marginalized community, it explores how her equation with her widowed brother Mammootty and the rest of the family remains complex even after a decade of marriage.

The couple seeks a marriage certificate from the registrar to find a home on rent. When the registrar asks why they need it, Bharathi says it is her second marriage. We never see them talk about ‘second marriage’ anywhere else in the film. This subtlety is where the beauty of remarriage emerges. Whether it was intentional to not talk about the concept ever again in the film brings a whole different discussion. But such a portrayal normalizes the entire concept like it is a usual deal and there is nothing to discuss. Even otherwise, the marriage life of Bharathi and Kuttappan, and their little emotional conversations talk a lot about their understanding and happiness as a couple.

Take Off

Released in 2017, Take Off is based on a real event where Indian nurses were captured in Tikrit, Iraq, which was taken over by ISIS. The film begins much before the incident and we get to live through the journey of Sameera (Parvathy), a nurse in Kerala. Her family is financially poor and she has to work to repay their debts, however, her husband Faizal and his family do not support her, and they eventually get divorced. Her son Ibrahim is under Faizal’s care but does not know about the divorce.

Later, Shaheed (Kunchacko Boban), who also works as a nurse, falls in love with Sameera. They both get married before they leave for Iraq to earn more money. Meanwhile, she gets pregnant. When Ibrahim comes to stay with Sameera, he learns about Shaheed and is initially furious. But he slowly gets used to the news. When the war breaks out, Shaheed leaves to another part of the country to save people, giving more alone time for the mother and son. Things turn chaotic, and the film explores how Sameera gets back her husband and how the nurses safely reach India.

Amidst all the chaos and complexity of war, there is a detailed narrative of Sameera. It shows the stereotypical thoughts she has to fight as a divorcee, how Shaheed loves her despite knowing her past (and present), and how his family comes to terms with their love. Shaheed always mentions Ibrahim as their son, and the way Ibrahim maturely takes in the news of the divorce but battles with emotions when he learns his mother is married to someone else. The tale of Sameera and Shaheed, the latter’s love towards Ibrahim, and the maturity of the small boy at such a young age, is just pure love.

Spirit

Spirit revolves around alcoholism. It tracks how Raghunandan (Mohanlal), a divorcee and alcoholic, realizes the issues with his addiction. His alcoholic behavior results in his divorce. Their son Sunny, who is unable to speak or hear, is with his ex-wife Meera (Kaniha) and her husband Alexy (Shankar Ramakrishnan). When he meets a plumber named Mani and learns how alcoholism ruined his life, he starts to look at life without alcohol.

Spirit finds a spot on this list because of Raghunandan’s healthy relationship with Meera and Alexy. Interestingly, they are Raghu’s best friends. Their son Sunny has also developed a close relationship with Alexy. In a scene, Raghu gives a gift to Sunny. Though Raghu struggles to talk to Sunny using sign language, Raghu kisses him and says this will convey everything. Later when Raghu and Meera see Alexy talking to Sunny using sign language, Raghu says, “He is a great dad”. The equation between the four of them and the simple handling of the complex relationship they share is beautiful to watch.

Aarkkariyam

Set during the lockdown, Aarkkariyam is about a couple — Roy (Sharaf U Dheen) and Shirley (Parvathy Thiruvothu) — who visit Shirley’s father Ittyavira (Biju Menon), and stay in his house during the lockdown. Roy is in a financial emergency due to the sudden lockdown. On the other hand, Shirley is trying ways to bring back her daughter from Tamil Nadu. It is a second marriage for both Roy and Shirley. While Roy is a divorcee, Shirley’s husband went missing for two years and was later found dead. But interestingly, we are not told about this initially. The detail unfolds only when the plot drives forward and focuses on Shirley’s first marriage.

There are a few scenes where they both talk about their first marriages. It is intriguing to see the couple comfortably interact about the events, and at one point Shirley even compares their first marriages as she talks about the love she and her late husband shared.

The bonding between Roy and Shirley’s father Ittyavira is very smooth and beautiful, it also plays a major role in the film. From their first scene together where we see Roy running and hugging him, to the later scenes where he feeds and takes care of him when he falls and gets injured, we see their bond grow stronger with time. Shirley’s father decides to sell his house to help Roy repay his debts. Shirley’s daughter Sophie also shares a very healthy and loving relationship with Roy.

Varane Avashyamund

This film is different from the rest on this list. While breaking the news of remarriage to a small kid is difficult, it is harder to do so with a daughter in her mid-20s who is on a groom-hunt herself. Neena (Shobhana) is divorced and has a daughter named Nikhitha (Kalyani Priyadarshan). Unlike the other films we discussed that show the marriage life, Varane Avashyamund explores the path to remarriage.

There is no rant about Neena’s first marriage or how she is a single mother. She takes care of Nikhita in an efficient manner and also works hard to reach more goals professionally. Neena and Major Unnikrishnan (Suresh Gopi), who also resides in the same flat, start liking each other. Although Nikhita disapproves of their relationship and the flatmates’ gossip, Neena does not shy away from showing her romantic interests. Towards the end of the film, Nikhita understands her mother’s love and accepts it, and Neena and Major unite. We are also parallelly shown the love tale of Nikhita and Bibeesh (Dulquer Salmaan), and it rings a bell that love has no age.

Neena finding her love and deciding to remarry is only one of the many striking features in the film. Even as a mother, Neena asks her daughter to experience romance and marry only when she wants to and marry someone who accepts her the way she is. Neena’s brother Manuel (Lalu Alex) is also supportive of her relationship with Major, which is a progressive thought process, whereas, in other films, the brother might be shown as the judgemental and protective figure.

Which films would you add to this list?

Love our content? Be a part of the Film Companion community by signing up here. For weekly updates on the latest reviews subscribe to our newsletter here.

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
"Harshini S V: Harshini's ambitions shifted with every character she saw on screen. One day it finally hit her that it wasn't the characters she was fond of but the films in totality. Be it conversation over a coffee or endless rants, she loves bringing in film references. A journalism graduate, she found her love for writing and films carve out a path together.."
  
Leave a Comment