The Great Indian Kitchen
It is a start of another wonderful week and I still have some leftovers to finish from the weekend. First up, I finished watching the new Tamil film The Great Indian Kitchen which is the official adaptation of the original Malayalam film The Great Indian Kitchen. The Malayalam film was one of the best films of 2021 in my humble opinion and the film had quite a journey. None of the major OTT platforms were willing to stream the film owing to a potentially controversial subject. As a result the film had to premiere on a lesser known OTT platform Nee Stream. Months later, the film had gained popularity and was finally bought by Amazon Prime. The story itself was a reflection of the prevalent patriarchy which is inherent in the nicest of males, at times without their knowledge. By all means, the film was important, relevant and an eye opener in many ways.
I usually do not prefer having remakes or adaptations of the most popular films. From a commercial standpoint, because the original film is so popular and watched by millions by the time its adaptation is out, you would then be catering only to a slender section of the audience. But in case of The Great Indian Kitchen, I really did not mind the adaptation being made, simply because the message is so relevant that it does need to spread to all fragments of the society. That said does the Tamil adaptation of The Great Indian Kitchen hold its ground well as compared to the original Malayalam one? Lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
An official adaptation of the original Malayalam film by the same name, The Great Indian Kitchen follows the plight of a young woman who is trapped in a pool of patriarchy post her marriage. The story is indeed relevant and the good part is that the essence of the original film has been retained without trying to be drastically different from the original. This for me was a good decision because the writing of the original film was just brilliant. The screenplay standing at barely 90 minutes does make for a brisk watch that will make you resonate with the drama all over again!
First things first! Is the Tamil film better than the original Malayalam film? The answer is no. While the original film had constructed the drama in the most organic manner, the drama here did feel slightly staged atleast at the start of the film. But this is not to say that the film is bad, infact it is a pretty good watch considering the mountain that the makers had to climb! The soul of the film does remain intact and that is helpful in going on a journey of retrospect all over again through the antics of the protagonist here.
The proceedings are interesting and engrossing although I was very well aware of the beats in the screenplay. If I had to do a little bit of the knit-picking, maybe the disgust factor of the protagonist over the food leftovers could have been amplified a little more, the original was shocking also because it had the first mover advantage! I also did feel that the one section that did involve the husband’s friend coming over to eventually cook a meal only to leave the kitchen in an absolute disarray was constructed and fleshed out a lot better in the original as compared to here which was almost a passing reference. Also the comedy in the scene did not work.
My eyes were pinned on the Sabarimala controversy and how that part would be tackled here. The conflict is very deeply rooted to the Malayalam culture although there are devotees that visit the temple premises all throughout the world. Here, the conflict was kept intact which is not a bad thing but this was that one opportunity in the screenplay to introduce a conflict rooted to the Tamil culture. But again, these are minor hiccups in a screenplay that is quite faithful to the original. It does ask and discuss all the right questions including that of intimacy, freedom of choices and the sharing of load between the husband and wife. And that climax is as moving as in the original. As I said earlier, this film is equally important from a social standpoint more than a commercial standpoint and for that the Tamil film does deserve an applause! Overall, the screenplay here is a faithful adaptation of the Original Malayalam film.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are good and definitely do make a mark, although the makers could also have opted for larger portions of silence to showcase the suffering of the protagonist. The music is good, the BGM is good too but my point of the use of silence does apply here too. The cinematography is pretty good, so is the editing. Director R Kannan does a good job in understanding the nuances of the original and incorporating that here pretty well. You will connect with the protagonist here that does account for a victorious lap for the director.
The performances are pretty good here. Again the characters are not named here which is symbolic of how generic this problem is. Rahul Ravindran as the husband is terrific and he does a good job. The simplicity of Suraj Venjaramoodu was missed but Rahul did a good job here. And Aishwarya Rajesh had huge shoes to fill here. Nimisha Sajayan was previously brilliant in the original. But Aishwarya does step up and how! She is phenomenal here and her performance does make you connect with her character wherein not only do you empathize with her but also retrospect about your own actions. It was an incredibly good performance by an actor who is one of my favourites at the moment.
The Great Indian Kitchen(Tamil) is a faithful and relevant adaptation of the original Malayalam film that deserves to be watched for some splendid performances. Available on Zee5.