Review: Rahul Riji Nair’s ‘Kho-Kho’, with Rajisha Vijayan and Mamitha Baiju

Posted on April 14, 2021


Spoilers ahead…

We are going to be talking about a film called Kho Kho, a film by Rahul Riji Nair, starring Rajisha Vijayan. Now, I have seen two movies of this director. One is Ottamuri Velicham and I have seen Kalla Nottam, which won the national award for best Malayalam Film this year. It’s a superb film. So, it was a big surprise seeing Kho Kho because it was this big, broad commercial film. It’s like an underdogs’ sports drama basically. And it’s kind of surprising that Rahul Riji Nair felt tempted to go to this place when his other films were so understated and delicate and almost indie-like.

So, Rajisha Vijayan plays this physical education teacher, named Maria. She ends up in a school for the underprivileged, it’s far away from where she actually lives and she has to go there because of financial reasons. Naturally we know, there’s going to be a great team being built there, she’s going to face a bit of opposition, so what’s the difference?

The difference comes from the very, very delicate touches. The film is very broad in its arc, which is like all sports dramas, because it’s basically the same thing. But the touches are beautiful and very delicate, and when I say touches I mean the things like how Maria interacts with her father, or how she interacts with her husband who’s kept away from the screen for long enough that we miss the character that when he returns we actually feel that, “O my god, I didn’t know this character was gone, but now that he’s back I really missed him.” There’s a big melodramatic secret at the heart of the story, I can’t tell you what it is, obviously. I can’t say I bought it fully but again like everything else in the movie, it is done with a lot of class. But most of all what I like is that Maria shapes a team not just with these big motivational speeches, but also by telling them about the mistakes that she has made in her life.

Kho Kho has excellent performances from Rajisha Vijayan and Mamita Baiju who plays one of the top students and it’s an example of how even a story that’s been told so often can be made to feel reasonably fresh again.

Copyright ©2021 Film Companion.