One of the highlights of this weekend was Molly Aunty. No, she is not a distant relative or a gift from my in laws 🙂 Molly Aunty Rocks is a Malayalam movie which released in theatres with fairly good reviews from critics, and a lukewarm response in the box office.
Another highlight was that the husband who is terrible at watching movies hated the movie. Not surprising that is. Then again the brother-in-law who eats, drinks, and sleeps movies also hated the movie. Somewhat surprised. But the biggest highlight of course was that I actually liked the movie. Not loved it, not hated, but just plain simple liked it. And like is really such an underrated emotion. But that’s another discussion, or rather another post.
And why? The husband was yawning and making terrible faces and being generally annoying through the movie. He said it was slow and not really engaging. Partly true. The brother-in-law walked out of the theatre, shaking his head in disappointment. “It’s like a documentary, and no real script.”, he said with heartfelt emotion. Quite true. But I still stand by what I said. I liked the movie. To give context to non-malayali readers, here’s a brief two line explanation of the plot. Molly Aunty is a 50+ woman who is living alone in Kerala, after a 20 year stint in the US. Her family is still in the US, and she plans to return there after she retires, and the movie revolves around the hurdles that she faces as she fights alone for her beliefs (not always the right belief I agree).
It’s strange how different reviewers have given different explanations about the movie. One said that it’s about living in a different culture (Molly has lived in the US for 20 years) makes you assimilate the positive aspects of that culture, and gives you confidence do things differently. Another review talked about the unique spirit and temperament of a middle aged woman that helps recheck the totally ignored civic sense of our society. The one I liked the best, or rather that came closest, talked about it being a story about a middle aged woman’s grit, and not her tears. All true to a certain extent, but that’s not why it resonated with me. The simplest explanation of course, is that movie is all about Molly Aunty. Period. It has a thin plot, but I repeat, the movie is all about Molly Aunty. And I really really like Molly Aunty, or well, the character Molly Aunty. And I relate to her so much. And I know so many of my friends would relate to her. We have been there, we know where she is coming from, well, we have ..been her. At some point in our lives. And it’s really really nice to see the small nuances, the layers added to her character, likeable and otherwise, the extremely tiny well-crafted details that were given to her character, that do not add eally much to the plot, but which brought a smile to my face.
Let me explain further Molly is fiercely independent. It’s not just shown in her fights with the system, but in her small quirks. How she lifts her own water can, instead of taking help from the guys at the store. How she goes through in detail over the expense report that her architect gives, how she negotiates costs with the guy who shifts her luggage to the new house, and best of all, how she keeps trying to drive inspite of all the small accidents she has (This is shown in the movie as a comic caper, and while it made me smile, I wonder how nobody saw her relentless determination there). Yes, it could be argued, that the independence could be explained as part of being part of a US culture. I have two things to say to that – First, how many US returned women are as independent, and free thinking as she is? And the second, I am privileged enough to personally know women who are as cool as her, women who have never lived abroad, but who are so fiercely independent, they are borderline irritating, but who are so so – So awesome. And like Molly says in the movie, she is not a feminist. And neither are these women. They are extremely strong women, who are stubborn in their ways, but noble in their intentions, who are vitriolic in their fight for causes, but who are kindness personified in their actions, who cling to their independence with tenacity, but who love with even more intensity; who are determined to live life on their own terms, but who easily make difficult choices for the ones they care about; who are not always right, but who fight like hell if they believe they are right. I saw so many of these women in the movie.
In one scene, you see her share her dinner with the neighbor’s kid, and when she sees him struggle with his fork, just asks him to dig in. And it’s the way she does it without any pretentions. As in other scene where they are having a family dinner, and she corrects the boy telling him that it’s pasta, and not noodles. Again, done without the slightest tinge of pretention or snobbishness. And how can I not get impressed with a 50+ woman playing football in the fields, or one who jumps over gates, or one still laughs and flirts her husband with total abandon? I would want to be like that when I am 50!!! Another thing which most men, most married women, and some single women won’t get is – the situations that Molly goes through. Okay, you live a fairly protected life in office, but step out of it, and see how difficult it to get respect if you want to do things differently. Try building your own house, or start your own business, or try to ..just do whatever you want. It is so freaking difficult! When I was building my own house, I would get into major fights with the contractors and the workers, because they just wouldn’t pay attention to what I was saying. It was always waiting for the “man of the house”, and I don’t know if any man would understand how mind-blowingly frustrating that is. It’s also sometimes frustrating how my parents listen to my opinions more, once I have got married, almost as if having a guy with me adds legitimacy to my thoughts. It is only for that reason I root for Molly in the some scenes even though I know she is not right.
There’s another scene which is powerful, not in its goodness, but in its negativity. In it, the bureaucrat makes innuendo that Molly’s anger at the system comes out of her sexual frustration because she is living away from her family. Jesus F***ing Christ! Why!!!! Why does everything come down to sex, and this obsession at explaining rebellion or anger through sex. It’s like women can’t be angry or mean or evil, for no reason other than sexual frustration. Right! Women are such one dimensional characters! And what gets me real pissed is how so many married women actually talk the same nonsense. I remember this conversation where a colleague was talking about a widowed lady who was being a proper bitch, and attributed it to her “not getting any”. The lady in question was genuinely a pain, and I have hated her at so many times, but …seriously, how will men respect us, when we don’t treat ourselves with respect. Back to the movie, I have to agree the movie loses it way half way through, and it doesn’t have a solid script. Nobody can deny its flaws. But it’s a movie which made me smile. It’s also a movie which made me think about all those women who I love and respect a lot. It’s also a movie which made me reinforce the life I have chosen. And…..It also a movie which made get back to writing 🙂