The first time I saw the poster, I thought this movie is going to be about this happy newly married couple whose relationship dynamics are filmed in the kitchen. Well I think that is what the poster intended to do, to lure you with the happy faces and then show you the deeply rooted ugly truths of patriarchy.
The protagonist here is a new bride who finds herself in the kitchen on the very first morning of her married life. She doesn’t mind it now because she has a loving husband, very polite and welcoming in-laws and a beautiful new home. But soon enough the lifelessness of her daily routine starts to grow on her and us. A good 40-45 mins are spent in showing us close shots of female hands chopping vegetables, cutting meat , washing utensils, sweeping, cleaning clogged sinks again and again minus their faces till the time it doesn’t exhaust you from just looking at it. Meanwhile the men of the house are seen reading or doing yoga, basically chilling.
The entire first half goes into hammering this this gender divide into our brains. The director is so hell bent on driving his point that he is unapologetic about the pace of the narration. As much as I wanted things to move swiftly, I get how it was necessary to wake people up from the acceptance of the long-conditioned gender definitions.
By second half things escalate, the struggle and suppression of the wife starts moving towards outburst. We also see a very seamless and apt integration of Kerala’s socio-political scenario which acts as a catalyst in her actions.
The two lead actors Nimisha and Suraj are flawless. They make their nameless characters come to life despite minimal dialogues. I wanted to give Nimisha a high five on her final act of outburst and as for him, I wanted to slap him through the screen every time he walked away from a dirty plate.
The great Indian Kitchen on its face looks like an average story of a middle-class unhappy marriage. But with this modest pretext, the film makes some very solid and hard-hitting points. Though the severity of misogyny shown here might seem extreme to some, but it addresses a much wider population who has been witness to such realities in various forms. With zero violence or exaggeration, the film ends up saying a lot of things. It is a tribute to the many lives that have been selflessly spent in the Kitchen. It is a slap on the face of many men who take immense pride in their occasional cooking episodes. It shows a mirror to the so-called modern families that glorify the multitasking capabilities of women by calling her a backbone while all they want to do is confine and control her. Also men who ‘allow’ women to work as long as they can manage other wife duties, the list is long.
No matter who you are, in the end it does evoke a feeling of empathy, guilt or disgust depending your gender and privilege. Impactful and a must watch.
Going with 4/5