27 October 2015
There are hardly any films made where female artists get to be on equal footing with the male protagonists let alone films with female being the lead character so when a director makes a film with to female protagonist with no male with the star value to speak of to accompany them, this by itself becomes a novelty and attracts audiences to the theatre. Director Ashiq Abu takes up this gamble and makes Rani Padmini with his wife Rima Kallingal and Manju Warrier doing the title roles without overtly having any feminist slant.
This is a typical story of two people being at the extreme ends of the spectrum and put together by fate. Here Rani (Rima Kallingal) who is tomboyish and ready to take up cudgels against male or female to prove a point. And Padmini being introverted and docile to the hilt. Rani has grown up in Delhi without any male protection while Padmini grows up in a traditional house hold with her father being a practitioner of aurvedic medicine. She migrates to Delhi after being married to Giri (Jinu Joseph) with Sajitha Madathil playing her mother in law. Giri is a car rally enthusiast and has been the winner of the Great himalayan car rally for the last couple of years.
Giri’s mother had put this thought forward that she was looking for a homely daughter in law so that she has a companion while her son roams around rallying but after marriage Padmini who is a physiotherapist by training and wishes to join a hospital near by. The reaction to which is extreme, Giri signs mutual divorce application at the behest of his mother before leaving to participate in the Himalayan car rally. So Padmini gathers courage and catch us the next bus to Manali which is the starting point of the rally. In the bus she bumps into Rani and from here their adventurous journey through the northern India where money plays an very important role begins.
One thing needs to be emphatically said here is the fact that this film present some of the most enthralling visuals of northern India where snow capped peaks and verdant surroundings are seen to be believed.
As for Rani’s back story she has got into trouble with a self-styled goon who had come into her neighbourhood very recently. And, he is running away from them to save her life.
This film has humour ranging from very subtle to being slapstick in the true sense.
Acting wise both the female guard their space with power house performances. While Manju is presented as having feminine attributes while Rima is shown as having masculine traits. Once she even jokes that they are lesbian lovers and this is their honeymoon trip.
Dileesh Pothan as a malayalam news reporter covering the car rally and Soubin Shahir as his camera man bring the house down a few times.
Finally we can say that Ashiq Abu has given us a real entertainer with Rani Padmini which is not a feminist film per se.
As it appeared in Rediff.