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Review: Oru Muthassi Gadha
Jude Anthany Joseph likes to weave his stories around feisty female characters. Om Shanthi Oshana revolved around a tomboyish and whimsical teenager who carries herself with a swagger and the insolent insouciance typical of a man.

In Oru Muthassi Gadha,  Leelamma, the rowdy grandmother with an acerbic tongue, drives everyone crazy with her eccentricities and nastiness.  Both are unconventional and non-conformist heroines who shatter popular stereotypes and illusions about women. The idea behind the story is credited to Nivin Pauly, the versatile actor who likes to push the envelope when it comes to roles. 

Leelamma is a crotchety old woman who lives with her son and his family. Suraaj Venjaramoodu plays Siby, the beleaguered son to perfection while Lena (why don't we get to see more of this talented actress?) plays his patient and adjusting wife, Jean. They have two kids - the daughter's role is essayed by the very talented Aparna Balamurali (of Maheshinte Prathikaram fame) who reminds one of Kajol Mukherkee in her earlier days.

Leelamma has a big chip on her shoulder the reason behind which is revealed towards the end of the film.  It makes her irritable, hateful, spiteful and plain cussed. This causes problems for her family which has to cope with the consequences of her cantankerous behaviour.  Maidservants don't last more than a week and the children seek escape in school and the college hostel because there is no peace and quiet at home.

Within a seemingly simple story Jude incorporates strands of many contemporary social issues. For instance, when a schoolboy tells his friend that he should not go behind the girl he likes but walk alongside her, we realise he's taking a dig at young men who harass girls by stalking them. 

There are also many references to beef and in one scene, Vijayaraghavan who is Suraaj's boss tells him to eat beef in order to become more intelligent. Beef is a staple in Kerala and it's obvious that Jude is cocking a snook at the cow vigilantes and beef bandits who terrorise people in the cow belts of India.  

Reflecting the changing dynamics of urban society, the husband is shown chopping vegetables and hanging up the washing. One of the most hilarious scenes in the movie is when the young school-going son tells his parents seriously that he doesn't want to accompany them on a vacation as he would have to miss school! 

This is another sly dig at today's generation which feels it's more cool to chat on watsapp or play video games rather than go for a family outing. Yet another belly-ripper is the scene in which Leelamma bursts out in annoyance when Suraaj's boss and family take a long time saying their goodbyes as they leave after dinner.

A curious feature of many Malayalam movies nowadays is the migrant worker, usually a Bengali, attached to a household. In Ann Maria Kalippilanu, the male help in a Malayali household is a migrant. The presence of such characters points to the changing social landscape of the state which attracts many migrant workers. 

The film is a laugh riot thanks to Leelamma's antics as well as the comedic efforts on Suraaj's part to maintain the fragile peace within and without the household.  The second half is all about the taming of the shrew by Susamma, the mother of Lena, (enchantingly played by Bhagyalakshmi), who steps in as the granny sitter when the family goes on holiday. 

Susamma, with infinite patience and unflappable humour, goes to work on Leelamma and changes her into a tech-savvy, less anally retentive and more pleasant woman. She gets her to draw up a bucket list and promises to fulfil each of her wishes. One of these wishes holds the key to Leelamma's temperament.

Towards the end, there is a poignant moment at the old age home where Leelamma is a special guest. A female inmate, when asked what her dearest wish is, tearfully admits that all she wants is to spend some time with her family. Isn't this what all old people need - a little affection and attention from their near and dear ones who are too busy with their own lives and friends?

The casting is perfect. First timer Rajini Chandy plays the 'muthassi' impeccably while Bhagyalakshmi is like a breath of fresh air. Suraaj Venjaramoodu reveals once again that he is a fine actor. His moving portrayal of a cuckolded husband in Action Hero Biju showed us what he is really capable of. Jude does a cameo in the movie as well.

In Oru Muthassi Gadha he has given us a film which, without maudlin sentimentality and tear-jerking melodrama, makes us look at old people with new and more understanding eyes.  

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