Thank God It Is Friday and there is a deluge of new releases which will ensure that we work round the clock! So lets get to them one by one. First up, I finished watching the new Malayalam film Rekha which is now streaming on Netflix. Honestly, is there evrn a Friday when I do not review a Malayalam film these days!
While I am always gung ho about watching a Malayalam film, I was really looking forward to watching Rekha simply on the credentials of its director Jithin Issac Thomas. Out of so many wonderful directors in the Malayalam film industry, Jithin has really stood out for me simply on his fiery filmmaking technique. Be it that simmering and hard-hitting story in the anthology Freedom Fight about the sewage workers or the anger of a screenplay writer in the Malayalam film Attention Please, I have always been fascinated by his sheer ability to go all out and literally showcase a fiery story around the emotion of anger. And his latest venture, Rekha did promise that and more! So then does Rekha manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Rekha is essentially a mystery/revenge drama of a young woman. And I shall be revealing on this bit of the story to avoid any further spoilers. The story here is almost like watching 2 different movies in one, something that I shall be elaborating on in this section. But having said that, the story is wafer thin but with a lot of texture primarily due to its layered screenplay standing at almost 2 hours. There is a considerable amount of detailing in the screenplay that I really enjoyed although if you look at the story rationally, there is not much novelty in it.
The drama is like watching two different films given how different its two halves are. The first half doesn’t give any remote indication on what is in store in the second hour. It opens almost like a family drama wherein the protagonist is shown to be in a ‘relationship’ given that she is always on her phone. There is a bit of texture to the drama, unfolding at a leisurely pace and slowly but surely focusing on its world building which does seem like a sweet little love story. There are also indications in the drama that she is closer to her father(a detail which is very important in the context of the drama later on) as you see her father standing up for her and not forcing her to get married. There is a bit of playfulness and casual flirting between the protagonist and her guy as well which eventually does lead up to a string of events!
The proceedings are engrossing and interesting given how organic the drama does feel. One thing does lead to another resulting in a tragedy and that is when the drama shifts gears. What did seem like a normal family drama, suddenly does transform into something totally different in what turns out to be an investigation coupled with a revenge drama. This was a tricky switch and I completely did have my faith restored in the Malayalam Film Industry for nailing it! In between, you are also given a reference on how the protagonist did not wish for a relationship but instead had to opt for it due to peer pressure! Interesting….
The drama does inject elements of patriarchy by touching upon another off-screen death that does hold a value of importance. On the slight downside, I did feel that the buildup in the second hour could have probably been replaced with a string of events to take the journey of the protagonist ahead, although I did not mind this buildup at all. The events leading up to the final act are a bit of a slow burn too but the finale act is gory, violent, layered and shocking. It is safe to say that this film is not for the faint hearted! Overall, the screenplay is well written and whatever little shortcomings are present, are all overpowered by a filmmaking style which is nothing short of brilliant!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and they ensure that the drama is grounded. The BGM is excellent here and I can give you two instances to support my claim. The drama does have softer notes in the first hour representing an almost sleepy town/village with the proceedings unfolding as a family drama. Cut to the second half where the BGM is filled with grudgy rock electronic set pieces that represent chaos and the idea of extracting revenge in the drama. Elsewhere, a dog is shown to be killed in the first hour only for his barks to return and haunt the culprit in the second hour. Amazing use of the BGM in the truest sense!
The cinematography and colour grading are pitch perfect! What does start off with lighter shades of nature, the colour grading keeps getting greyer and greyer with the cinematography almost playing a complimenting role. For instance, the finale act was shot in the dark with just shades of red from a restaurant dominating the frame, almost acting as a spotlight. In a separate scene involving a death, there is wide still shot with a group of people rushing towards a particular part on the screen which was a wonderful way of extracting focus of the viewer. These wide shots did remind me of European cinema.
Director Jithin Issac Thomas does a phenomenal job with his filmmaking style and once again he does represent the emotion of anger onscreen really well. I had watched Anger Tales yesterday and this is what was expected in that anthology series, something that was missing. Also, his simplistic story is overshadowed by a brilliant spell of filmmaking that deserves to be studied and savoured.
The performances are pretty good here by the entire cast. Unni Lalu as Arjun is deceptive and a character that will keep you guessing. He is incredibly good here and if he does manage to rage you then it is safe to say that he is outstanding here. Vincy Aloshious as Rekha(note the name that stands for boundary in Hindi, a clever reference related to her love life and her equation with her family, if overstepped, would spell doom) is in fiery form here. She has moments of stoic silence coupled with bursts of anger that not only keep you on tenterhooks but also keep you guessing about her next reaction. She is brilliant in a role that does stay with you long after the film has ended. All other actors are incredibly good as well.
Rekha is an intriguing revenge drama with outstanding filmmaking and performances to be cherished and studied. Available on Netflix and Highly Recommended!