Randu Penkuttikal Review
The questions that trouble young Aswathy's (Anna Fathima) mind in '2 Penkuttikal' are varied and are invariably linked to the curbs and restraints that are imposed on her, on account of being a girl. She finds a partner-in-distress in classmate and close friend Anagha (Shyambhavi) and together, they nurture dreams of visiting the mall some day.
Aswathy has a drunkard of a father to deal with back at home, while Anagha is often busy shuttling between her estranged parents. With no hopes of viewing the mall in sight, the two girls set out on a journey of their own, with consequences that are nothing short of disastrous.
'2 Penkuttikal' doesn't claim to be a feministic film, but the standpoint that it adopts is one that arrays a multitude of queries before us. These are as much troublesome to the viewer as they are to the film's young protagonists, and while the film does not offer any solutions, it does probe deep into the veiled substratums of the Malayali society.
Aswathy who has been busy learning a speech for the Women's Day celebs at school, suddenly finds a realistic application for the same, when on the beach she runs into a child molester and shoves him onto the surf. Giggling away and shaking their heads in merriment, the girls run away from the man, with Aswathy mouthing her speech in excitement, and almost out of breath.
On another instance, when the teacher assigns her a task of listing out the differences and disparities that exist between a boy and a girl, Aswathy comes up with a list, aided by her mother that chalks out in precise terms what it means to be a woman in Kerala. There aren't any earth shattering decrees on her list, and rather only a very candid declaration as to how her small world appears dissimilar to that of a boy's.
Where the film falters is when it moves to its final moments, when the two grown up women come across one another. Shorn of their innocence, they pale in comparison to their younger selves and exhibit an oddness in their countenance that stands in striking contrast to the affable spotlessness that had endeared them to us.
It remains hence that even as the film floors you as it shines the spotlight on the two vivacious girls, it takes a few steps backward when they mature into adults and start talking of the unfairness meted out to the women folk out there. While the sermons and speeches are kept at bay initially, the film does give in to the enticement to be a wee bit didactic eventually.
The sparkling performances of the two child actors - Anna Fathima and Shyambhavi - are easily among the best I have watched in recent times, and together they relegate everyone else including seasoned actors as Tovino Thomas and Amala Paul (in cameos) to the background. The girls are the life and soul of this film, and together bring about an arresting impact that lets their insecurities linger around for quite a while in our hearts.
The concerns that '2 Penkuttikal' puts on display are universal without doubt, which makes it a film that dynamically relates to the times in which it has been made. Refusing to play by the rules, it is a small and simple film that brims with life.
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