Bheemante Vazhi directed by Ashraf Hamza, produced by Rima Kallingal, Aashiq Abu and Chemban Vinod ( who is the writer and actor in the film), looks innocuous as a sweet little story of a village street that needs to be widened. What it hides beneath its folds, is a gentle nudge to the way we have watched and interacted with typical onscreen characters. The film breezes upon issues such as toxic masculinity, ageism, women’s roles, vanity, lust, love and camaraderie. And in it, is the true beauty of the film. As you laugh at some of the atypical types, you don’t realise that you have redefined a role that you thought was fixed in your mind.
If we start with the title, Boban’s character addresses everyone as Bheema, and is in turn addressed as Bheema.” It is inspired by my friend who had this uniqueness to him says writer, producer and actor, Chemban Vinod.
The film deals with the widening of a small road located next to a railway track – a job undertaken by Kunchako’s character Sanju. His mother meets with an accident and the existing road is so narrow that there is no car access to his home. She has to be carried to the mouth of the road which is wide enough for a car to enter. So, he champions the road widening project but has to face the wrath and the support of a few of his neighbours who have to give up a little part of the land for the road to be widened.
Vinod and Ashraf take us right into the scene of the action depicting each neighbour with his/her quirks, eccentricities and uniqueness, setting the climate of the film. A little boy who is perpetually dressed up in a superhero costume, a man with a pet black hen on his shoulder, a wannabe Telugu actor with his perpetual hero glasses and snazzy outfits very alien to the village he is from, a martial arts teacher, a shirtless antagonist played by Jinu Joseph. Joseph’s character Kosthep opposes the road widening project and what follows is the clash between him and Bheeman. Watch the film to figure out his ‘daddy fixation.’
Kunchako Boban plays the lecherous Sanju who believes in ‘sport’ and not commitment when it comes to his relationship with women. There is less emotion and more lust in his associations with women and he is unapologetic about it. The terrain is new to Boban who has usually been seen in ‘cleaner’ roles and this one being lascivious and lustful.
But the most refreshing part of the film is the depiction of the women. Not stereotypical, they are of different kinds – one chooses work and passion over marriage and runs a martial arts school, one is traditional, the other is a non -conformist, if one wants marriage and proposes to the boy herself, the other is willing to be in relationship till it suits her. They prove to be the strongest voices in the film. They are played by actors Chinnu Chandni Nair, Vincy Aloshious, Divya M Nair.
Each character is given his space and his quirk is explored with a great sense of humour. You feel that you know these people and have known of people like them in stories and tales told to you. Watch Bheemante Vazhi as it paves its path towards progressive cinema ever so subtly and refreshingly so.
More on the movie and my interaction with the film-makers on the Filmfare Middle East YouTube.