Kaathal The Core Review: As Simple and Beautiful as its Title!
In The Great Indian Kitchen, Jeo Baby showcased how something cruel & shameful is an accepted norm in the society. In Kaathal - The Core, he showcases how a natural feeling is shamed & treated cruelly by the same society! If you are active in social media, you would probably already be aware of what the film deals with. If not, be aware that there could be mild spoilers ahead.
Set in a Christian household in rural Kerala, the film talks about a very basic feeling – Love! More specifically, as the title denotes, the core of love. The simple title itself in a way tells us how simple and beautiful the feeling is and how we do everything possible to make it complicated. A couple (played by Mammootty and Jyothika) are married for 20 years or so. As society would like to believe or judge, they seem like a perfect couple. They have a teenaged daughter too. So, when Omana (Jyothika) does something, it not only surprises Mathew (Mammootty) but the people around them. The film doesn’t explicitly reveal the reason for quite some time, though you are kind of aware of it. Jeo Baby treats us, the audience like the society around Mathew and Omana. “Why are you judging them to be leading a contented life, when you are not living their life?”, he seems to ask us. We get the explicit reveal, only during the court proceedings in the later half of the film.
It is great to see someone as popular as Mammootty be a part of a film like Kaathal - The Core. It would help to make discussions on topics that are always hidden under the rug, more mainstream. He is terrific as Mathew, the mild-mannered person who doesn’t want to hurt those around but also ends up doing it because of mental constraints imposed on him by the society. It is fascinating to see the actor convey so much without ‘doing so much’! And for someone with such a huge volume of work, the fact that we are seeing Mathew on screen and not Mammootty speaks volumes. It took a while for me to warm up to Jyothika as Omana. Seeing her in a Malayalam film and probably because someone has dubbed (?) for her could be reasons. But she is absolutely brilliant and as the film moves towards the crucial portions, you realize that she brings in a lot to the character. In a way, she is the ‘hero’ of the film. Omana is the one who is championing a cause. She is fighting for herself. But it is only later that we realize that she is actually fighting for Mathew (as well). And when they are holding each other and crying towards the climax, you realize that these two could very well be in love. And that love is the very reason for Omana to be doing what she does. Sudhi Kozhikode, who plays Thankan, is excellent. He has to convey his yearning for love, the embarrassment he endures and the sadness in his eyes, every time he has to consciously suppress his overpowering love in public. And almost all of this has to be done without dialogues. What a performance!
Kaathal - The Core, talks about the core of love, which is essentially accepting someone for who they are. The primary characters in the film are actually accepting of each other’s nature. But they aren’t able to welcome their decisions for fear of society. All the characters are shown as having empathy. In his very first scene, Mathew stands on the side of a young couple against the wishes of the girl’s family, even at the cost of losing a few votes. (And yes, I forgot to mention. Mathew is contesting in the ward elections, and this plays a crucial part of the plot.) But he isn’t able to do the same for himself. But when he finally is able to do it with the help of Omana, the film closes with a shot of a beaming rainbow.