On ‘June’ and the pleasures of even not-so-great Malayalam cinema

Posted on March 25, 2019


Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/on-june-and-the-pleasures-of-even-not-so-great-malayalam-cinema-baradwaj-rangan-rajisha-vijayan/

The detailing seems to come less from a screenwriting manual than from someone’s life.

Ahammed Khabeer’s June is about the coming-of-age journey of the protagonist (after whom the film is named), played by Rajisha Vijayan. It’s also about all the reasons I love watching mainstream Malayalam cinema. For one, there’s the acting. I’m not necessarily talking about Soubin Shahir levels of greatness, the ability to infuse micro-shadings into a part in a manner that reveals itself over multiple viewings. I’m just saying that even when Rajisha Vijayan plays all the usual shades a heroine gets to play — from “I’m in love” to “My heart is broken” to “I’m knocking back a couple of beers with my dad” (okay, so the latter is not exactly something we see our leading ladies do) — she puts in something new, something extra, something that’s as much from the actor as it’s about the character. It’s hard to say where Rajisha Vijayan ends and June begins.

June is not a great film. It’s no Ee.Ma.Yau. It’s no Sudani from Nigeria. But the “not-bad to good” levels of Malayalam cinema are on par with “great” from our other mainstream film industries. And that’s because, apart from the central narrative, there’s so much to enjoy in the sidelines that it’s easy to forget the bigger picture and just enjoy the small moments. I watched June with a big grin plastered on my face. It’s only after I exited the theatre and started thinking about the film that the problems began to show up. Like the fact that, after a point, June’s love life takes far too much screen space. Like the fact that her entrepreneurship dreams are hastily tucked away into a small corner of the movie. Like the fact that, post interval, the wobbly screenplay makes even this love life unconvincing, the way June meets men and moves on from them. Like the fact that June is constantly (and alarmingly) infantilised.

Continued at the link above.

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