Freedom Fight review: This Malayalam anthology is one of the finest works of Indian cinema, with top-notch direction, spellbinding performances and excellent stories

Freedom Fight review: This Malayalam anthology is one of the finest works of Indian cinema, with top-notch direction, spellbinding performances and excellent stories

Superbly accompanied by a noteworthy background score and cinematography, the film proves to be the perfect title of this anthology enacted by a talented cast ensemble

Bobby SingUpdated: Sunday, February 13, 2022, 06:51 AM IST
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After the much-acclaimed The Great Indian Kitchen, writer-director Jeo Baby presents an anthology (directing one of its five segments), pointing towards the ugly social inequalities in our society. To clear the confusion over its title, the stories are not about the independence movement or any political revolution. They are actually about the independence of an individual, fighting with the surroundings, the family, and the visibly divisive society.

The thought-provoking stories are important and told in a brilliant, effective manner. They make you think hard about life and the significance of independence in it. The film begins with a story written and directed by Akhil Anilkumar, introducing a young girl and her decision about marriage, opposing the patriarchy. It raises a valid point that why society doesn’t expect a girl to withdraw post her engagement, realising it is not a good match?

Ration - written, edited, and directed by Francies Louis (editor of The Great Indian Kitchen) is about the drastic inequalities of income and living standards in our society. Also featuring Jeo (in a cameo), it focuses on how the ugly income gap affects the life of the lower-middle-class section living in awe of the rich.

Old Age Home - written and directed by Jeo, is the most silent segment of the film, pointing towards the last decades of the ageing parents living alone in their house like an old age home. Their children settled in different cities talk to them through video calls but are not able to understand the pain of living a lonely life. It’s also about how fading memory and ailments seriously affect the final years of the old.

The above three segments beautifully convey the message. But what takes the anthology to another level are the two stories written and directed by Kunjila Mascillamani and Jithin Issac Thomas, capable of making you numb, with hundreds of thoughts in mind watching their end credit.

Lined up as the second story of the film, Kunjila’s segment strongly brings forward an issue, which even the government has not been able to provide a solution for, to date in this new millennium. Focusing on a group of working women in the shops of a local market, it’s about how they are facing the problem of no ladies-toilet in that region, with the employers bluntly telling them to deal with it. This is no issue for the men using a backyard wall for the purpose, but the women cannot do the same, desperately searching for a place to get relieved. This relevant subject has never been dealt with such a realistic vision without any political motive ever before on the Indian screen.

While the above story prepares you well for the next, the final blow hits you hard, intelligently written and directed by Jithin. Presented in black and white, it is about a poor septic tank cleaner who becomes a victim while working in the sewer tank of a minister’s house. The execution of this exceptional story is simply outstanding, and one feels like praising it a lot more, realising the reason behind its presentation avoiding the colours.

Superbly accompanied by a noteworthy background score and cinematography, Freedom Fight proves to be the perfect title of this anthology enacted by a talented cast ensemble. The names include Rajisha Vijayan, Srinda, Kabani, Rohini, Joju George, Unni Lalu, Sidharth Siva, and more, along with Jeo.

Among the drawbacks, it certainly would appeal more to the niche audience interested in watching bold, experimental cinema made on the burning social issues. Besides, the non-linear and docu-drama kind of format takes its time to establish an emotional connection with the viewers. However, once you get the flow, it becomes a winner all the way, raising many valid questions about our society and its caste and gender divisions.

In all, just like The Great Indian Kitchen, Freedom Fight is another path-breaking achievement presented by Jeo, bringing along these visionary writers and directors. It has shocking and novel subjects rarely seen before and thus deserves to be viewed at the earliest, making it a priority.

Title: FREEDOM FIGHT (Malayalam)

Cast: Rajisha Vijayan, Srinda, Kabani, Rohini, Joju George, Unni Lalu, Sidharth Siva, and more

Directed by: Akhil Anilkumar, Jeo Baby, Francies Louis, Kunjila Mascillamani and Jithin Issac Thomas

Platform: SonyLIV

Rating: 4 stars

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