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If you are unhappy with the lack of women-centric themes in Malayalam cinema, here"s a reprieve. This movie belongs to Kavya Madhavan, who has brilliantly delivered the role portraying the hardships of a Malayalee maid in a Sheikh"s house in Saudi Arabia.
It tells the tale of Aswathy who takes up a Khaddama"s (maid) job in Saudi to support her family after her husband (Biju Menon)"s untimely death. The film makes every possible effort to explain and emphasize the hardships of life in the Middle East, and more so of the Khadammas. We meet many familiar faces: The agent who gets a 'sponsor visa", Malayalee shop keepers, drivers, a newspaper editor and even a goat-keeper, and more importantly the good samaritan social worker portrayed by Sreenivasan. Here is a character we have seen or heard about in Paravasalokam on Kairali TV.
Unlike other Gulf-based Malayalam movies, this realistic tale takes the viewer into the villa of the Arab Sheikh- the ruthless, uncouth, insensitive , petro-dollar nouveau riche guy. These traits run in their family, with every family member including women and children being portrayed as cruel, and inhuman-to put it mildly here. A lecherous senior Sheikh, a barbaric woman and a hyper obese sadist kid -all in this family. Though the story shows an instance of this kid having a heart, the damage already done does not leave any room for the viewer to like him.
The screenplay narrates Kavya"s past and present on parallel tracks and they converge, flawlessly explaining the conditions that drove her into this mess. Sreenivasan"s life is another track that runs through the movie, a selfless gentleman, who has taken up helping the needy as his vocation, leaving the shop he owns and struggling to do justice to his family. The movie has a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel effect through out, stories of lives rolling on wheels of hope against hope- something that sums up the struggles of the Gulf Malayalee.
The sheer brilliance of Kavya"s acting skills hits you hard to leave you in admiration for her and the character. In a completely believable turn of events, her ordeal through places, people, and police leads her to finally leave the land of dreams. Not just the times of hardships, even during the initial happy days, Kavya plays the naive and innocent village girl to perfection. Manoj Pillai"s camera takes you to the unending stretches of the desert with the hot and swirling desert wind that brushes against your senses-something that lets the viewer feel a portion of the hardship. Adding to the visuals, Shreya Ghoshal voice and M Jayachandran"s music haunts you.
Somehow, Biju Menon does not fit into a ruffian role, he is too decent for that. Muralikrishnan"s mannerisms remind you of his father, Bharat Gopi, and clearly convey that he is a very promising actor. Let us not forget his excellent performance in Bhramaram. Suraj does not over act and does a good job.
Kavya makes a terrific come back with Gadhama. Without any doubt, this is her best performance till date.