Even after hundred years of cinema and storytelling, the subject of the man-woman relationship remains intriguing enough to be explored further as per the changing times and mindsets. The new anthology from Malayalam cinema, boldly attempts the same, depicting three distinctive eras with praiseworthy lead performances.
Aanum Pennum (meaning Man and Woman) begins with the story of Savithri, who is brave, confident, and a communist comrade, disguised as a house-help in the times of the British Raj. A politically inclined tale, it represents the widely prevalent caste-gender divide of those times along with references to Indian mythology. Directed by Jay K, the segment has impressive performances by Samyuktha Menon and Joju George.
The second segment titled Rachiyamma, directed by Venu is based on a novella by Uroob written in 1969. It revolves around an ever-smiling girl, a milkmaid, and her innocent affection for a newly appointed plantation manager in the region. As a heart-warming story, it instantly reminds you of the basic flashback plot in Gulzar’s Mausam.
The segment also has the best performance of the film by Parvathy along with Asif Ali, which stays with you for a while. The unexpectedly bold Rani is the third story directed by Aashiq Abu, focusing on a young couple, their intimate talks, and their passion to make love in an unusual setting. Supportively performed by Darshana Rajendran and Roshan Mathew, the final sequence of the story is hilarious but it also makes a statement representing the women-power. In fact, in all three segments, we have the women characters as the more courageous, fearless, and decision-making ones instead of the men.
They are more sorted and have complete control over themselves with clarity of what to do next, taking their own decisions. That is what makes Aanum Pennum worth recommending despite being slow-paced and predictable except Rani, the third story having a surprise element.
The presentation also becomes a visual delight because of eye-catching cinematography and soothing background score/songs perfectly blending with the narration. Where Savithri has a beautiful dance performance, Rachiyamma has mesmerizing locales, and Rani has some noticeable dialogues representing the young love, providing an entertaining conclusion to the anthology.
Overall, Aanum Pennum might not be a great film, but it certainly is a brave attempt, representing women in its three stories concentrating on the man-woman relationships.
It won’t disappoint you if given a chance and deserves to be seen, especially for Parvathy’s enriching performance and the quirkiness of the final segment, leaving you with a smile.
Film: Aanum Pennum (Malayalam)
Cast: Samyuktha Menon, Joju George, Indrajith
Directors: Venu, Aashiq Abu, JAY K
Platform: Amazon Prime Video
Rating: 3 stars