The Mathukutty directorial also features Gopika Udayan, Siddique and Rekha. The film, supposedly a coming-of-age tale, does not deal with romantic relationships, sexual life, and marriage very seriously on the background of a society that terribly lacks sex education.
Last Updated: 03.18 AM, Dec 25, 2021
Kunjeldho revolves around the life of the titular teenager (played by Asif Ali), who steps to college. Eventually, he finds the love of his dreams in his class. Amidst the colourful campus life, the couple faces certain unexpected incidents, which turn their lives upside down.
The Mathukutty directorial Kunjeldho made me recheck the year in which I was living. The movie that supposedly traces the emotional maturity of teenagers, struggles to be a contemporary piece of cinema.
Teenage life is always fun and exciting, especially the time when one steps from their higher secondary to college life. The movie has succeeded in bringing out the whole mood of the new campus life. When it comes to love and sexual life of teenagers, the so-called progressive society always tends to be stereotypical, for which Kunjeldho is another example.
The film, supposedly a coming-of-age tale, does not deal with romantic relationships, sexual life, and marriage very seriously on the background of a society that terribly lacks sex education. We still live in a patriarchal society where sex is believed to lead to horrible consequences among adults, while our male teenagers treat it as something that proves them to be talented and ‘manly’. The movie has many scenes where the male group is seen discussing this idea and asking their classmates to prove themselves to be a man. On an interesting note, the consent or interests of their mates are totally absent in the scene. There is not even one incident where the movie focuses on the female peer group’s sexual interests.
Even the protagonist is presented to be an alpha male who is in his young, growing age, sure to be a typical patriarchal man in his adult age. Though the movie claims to be revolving around how a teenager matures emotionally to a man all of a sudden, it seemed more like how wrong the emotional growth can be if proper sex education is not provided.
Not only the movie fails in addressing or exploring the women’s emotions regarding anything big in her own life, but it also asserts how patriarchy is normalised. We won’t even feel the need of the woman wanting an opinion for herself, as her partner is presented to be protective enough to look after her in any difficult circumstances.
The movie makes sex look terrifying and how it could lead to tough consequences, rather than teaching our teenagers to safely navigate their sexual and romantic relationships. The story is loosely written without much knowledge or research into the subject and proper characteristics.
In an era that sees a total revolution against such taboos, it is quite disappointing to see treating the subject in the same mould as it has been for several decades. Instead, the film could have promoted safe sex and how teenagers need to be aware and educated about it and the rights they have. The film presents a perfect example of why we need gender and sex education in our country.
While talking about the performances, Asif Ali has made his role perfect as usual, with his natural acting abilities. The female protagonist Gopika has also done a decent job in bringing out a ‘voiceless and pushover’ desi heroine’s emotions. Senior actors like Siddique and Rekha have also made their roles natural and blend into the storyline.
The movie doesn’t treat the subject any different than a ’90s Malayalam movie. The movie is not recommended for a watch even for the stellar cast that it has.