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Don’t watch Kaathal The Core if you want to miss out on mastery of emotions and pure storytelling

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Smrithi Mohan
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Kaathal The Core

Kaathal The Core feels like a healing pad for all the broken hearts and talks about life, love, relationships and freedom through an unadulterated approach. It was a movie that had me thinking about it even after the credits roll. 

PS: This article contains spoilers.

Kaathal The Core, directed by Jeo Baby is a story about Mathew (Mammooty), who is gearing up to contest elections as an independent candidate. In the wake of his candidacy, he is met with a crisis when his wife, Omana (Jothika) files for a divorce. The story then uncovers the reasons for it while Mathew deals with his inner turmoil of having to keep a secret all his life.

Movies can be a lot of things, and making you feel things after you finish watching them is one of the best bits of it. If you were looking for such a movie, this is it. In a time when Bollywood decided to give violence its limelight, Malayalam cinema was mainly talking about family centric stories. All the Malayalam releases in the last few months are proof of the same! While those movies explored family and relationships extensively, Joe Baby’s Kaathal did the same while talking about an important aspect of society that Indian families choose to dust under the rug. And he did it with such finesse that you tend to carry it with you for a longer period of time. The beauty of the film lies in the simplicity with which Baby deals with a topic like homosexuality without leaving the seriousness of it behind. 

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The director was able to turn it into a story that will reach the most remote places of our country and give the audience something to introspect. There is nothing in the face, it’s all understood. We are never shown Mathew and Thankan's love story, or them in the field holding hands, not even them looking into each other's eyes. But the moment they come together we can see the romance implode. For that instant, it’s just them in the frame despite being surrounded by people. In between Mathew struggling to find peace, it’s their tiny meets, the unsaid conversation that holds deeper meaning than what meets the eye, and the rain that was a theatrical representation of their inner sorrow that gave us the greatest love story of the season. When Thakan held on to his picture as a souvenir as a way of him almost accepting defeat was also when we wanted to fight for his love.

Joe Baby did not need to do anything revolutionary for us to know that Mathew was gay. No one even uses the term gay until later in the movie like many don't in real life too. It also represents Mathew himself and everyone he loved gradually accepting him for who he is. Not once do we find people looking down on him, apart from the few instances. A family not caring if a candidate is gay or not because all they need is someone who will fulfill their basic need as a representative, shows the politics of the topic in the most wholesome manner. Putting acceptance as the core adds to the beauty of the movie. There is enough and more empathy among the people of the village for the entire world, and isn’t that the point of us being humans? It has become common for people in urban cities to talk about being inclusive, being accepting of all genders. But for some reason, it is rather shocking to imagine a person belonging to a Catholic family from a remote village in Kerala who is also a public personality facing the struggle to live his truth. Kaathal stands as a good counter for anyone suggesting being queer as something that is an “urban elite” lifestyle. 

Mammooty is his usual handsome and acting excellence, gives us a character who is vulnerable and caged under the pressures of society all at once. From toning down his acting to reveal a confused and introverted Mathew to him breaking down hugging his wife as he cries out 'daivame' (oh my god) - all of this leaves you choking. We don’t need to dissect how good he is, we know it already. What we need to talk about is him taking up this role and placing a conversation about queer identity in regular conversation. He is one of the megastars who is known to be experimental when it comes to scripts, giving new directors a chance and doing more than 2 movies a year. Many might call it a 'bold' move, but I would just call it Mammooty being himself and choosing another story he knew needed to be told. The person who needs to be praised and talked about more is Sudhi Kozhikode as Thankan, another best thing about the movie. He showed his virtuosity by bringing Thankan’s loneliness, and the naivety of a small-town person grappling to live his truth to be with the person he loves the most while also dealing with the pain of being looked down on by his nephew who gets to know about his sexuality through rumors. Jothika, brought another strong personality onscreen, although her emotions stayed stagnant as the sad wife throughout. 

A story that talks about acceptance and the need for one to get the chance to move on in life without having to stick around for the sake of it, Kaathal The Core gives people something to think about. In a time when storytellers are still finding it hard to bring more sapphic stories and other genders onscreen, it's definitely a step forward when it comes to representation.

Watch the trailer here:

Kaathal The Core is now streaming on Amazon Prime Videos!

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