Reviews or Rants?

Kaduva Is Disappointing, But Not Surprising

This film review has no spoilers, mainly because there is just one spoiler- the spoiled brat that is Kaduvakunnel Kuruvachen, AKA “Kaduva” (tiger).

It becomes evident in the first 15 minutes that our Kaduva is a big shot- not because he’s done anything significant to deserve it, but because his merit was pre-determined through his now deceased father. Throughout the movie, the father is omnipresent, because Kaduva has to consistently remind both friends and enemies alike of his lineage. I can let this go, because it is only when you lose someone that you try to make their memory stay.

Kaduva is from the Indian state of Kerala, but our story is specifically limited to the town of Pala- this is an all in all Mallu Christian hub, and it becomes very obvious in the movie too. I saw more crucifixes in this one film than I have seen at church. In this way, they have established him as you typical ‘upper’ caste Malayali Christain man. The white shirt that is specially stitched for him in a particular tailor shop with a particular cloth material, the gold cross chain and Kerala mundu that he pairs it with; large and wide estates, a successful business, a total of two-cars minimum, a big house with three children and a wife… all the way down to drinking on a Saturday night and appearing fresh and clean in church on Sunday morning. This movie has got it all right- so kudos to observation skills.

The problem is, to be this caste proud today (to be so ignorant) is honestly very embarrasing. As an ‘upper’ caste Malayali Christian myself, the movie seemed like a long stretched bout of second hand embarrasment.

The movie starts good- by exposing the perversions that exist in the Catholic church, with a priest that takes advantage of a young girl. The church ofcourse, treats the matter in the worst way possible, causing the girl’s father to meet Kaduva and ensure that his daughter is avenged. Our hero’s master mind strategy is to warn the priest by giving him an aggressive handshake.

‘Revenge’ as such is not taken until much later in the movie, when the Priest decides to be creepy with Kaduva’s wife and kicks his older daughter down the stairs.

This movie is different from other movies I have seen so far (note that I have not seen too many) because Kaduva essentially makes his own enemy by being a nosey, ignorant prick. He deliberately sees a policeman’s disabled son and tells him that the son has become so because of the father’s bad deeds in the police force. “Just take it in a good sense- but your son is this way because you’ve been doing a shitty job at work”, essentially. But the makers of the film have already apologised for this scene.

The enemity is further cemented when Kaduva slut shames the police man’s super old mother. Why? because she didn’t support a claim he made in the Church that would make trouble for our creepy Priest. Of course, he later goes to apologise but just stands there the entire time with a smug smile as the mother expresses her anger. Those who took him to convey his apology also end up making fun of her before they all leave the house feeling extremely good about themselves in absolute Mallu Christian brotherhood.

It gets worse towards the end, where in a mad quest for revenge, our policeman decides to release a man with bipolar disorder who has been admitted to a mental asylum to murder Kaduva. Yes, because that’s why the mentally ill exist- to do your dirty work. Policeman is the real sicko. The best part? the hit man is bribed with the promise of raping and murdering a woman he seems to have had an unhealthy obsession with, but obviously the movie does not delve too deep into that.

In this weird, annoying cockfight that is happening, four women have been scapegoated, for literally no reason other than furthering the plot. This screams male gaze to me. It’s pathetic and disgusting.

The cherry on top however, is this weird sympathy that is trying to be evoked for Kaduva in the film. It’s OK to hate the police man- why? because he ruined Kaduva’s life by burning his estate, shutting his business, and putting him in jail. It’s OK to hate the mentally ill man- why? because he’s dangerous to society.

It’s NOT OK to hate Kaduva- why? because he’s just a cutie with a saviour complex and arrogance. What is especially humiliating about the film is how all those in the background are almost always standing with their hands folded behind him. Coincidentally (?), these background figures are always a skin shade darker than our hero. It’s an on-screen degradation that happens over and over again to stroke his image as the kindest and best, when in reality it is just condescending arrogance.

As an audience, you shouldn’t hate him at all, because despite his HUGE plantation that was being run on the backs of workers who have no presence, no character, and no role was burnt down; and despite his bar being shut and the policeman grabbing and bullying a waiter instead of our Kaduva… the hero is still very calm and composed.

This is another freaky thing about the movie- the kaduva was barely capable of showing any kind of emotion except arrogance and anger. But aren’t we as a society already over that kind of hero? We now like our heroes to cry and laugh and be…well, human.

Despite “losing it all”, he still has enough money to sell his assets and create HUGE changes that give him the power to flip the tables on the policemen. And that, my friends, is the power of social capital and generational wealth.

Finally, I leave you with this- Kaduva can be watched only in two ways- first, as a study and analysis of the mind of an ‘upper’ caste Mallu-Christian man, his family and society dynamics, or second, as a mind-numbing three hours of action scenes that have been shot very well. But any attempts to delve deeper into this film will unravel it, leaving at its core a poorly written film by ignorant men.

If like me, you have already been harmed by watching this film, I suggest as an antidote Pa Ranjith’s Kaala, where among many other things, you can especially see women being more things than just plot catalysts.


“Ew, fish”

Was a very common phrase I heard while growing up. The repulsion that fish has the power to bring about in vegetarians around me was something I was used to witnessing.

Fish was supposed to be disgusting. Of course, those who thought this way had never bothered to try it. It was disgusting because of the way it smelled- stinky, apparently.

When the outbursts began, I would grow very quiet- just looking and nodding. That’s how I react when anybody gets violent feelings about something that I don’t necessarily think ‘weird’ or ‘disgusting.’ Perhaps in this case it was guilt- I was hiding something.

Fish is an everyday occurrence when you grow up in a Malayali household. In fact, the absence of fish is what is weird for us. I was leading a double life. I would go to school and listen to people hate on fish, and come back home and eat it with renewed vigour. To this day, fried fish, rice, moru curry, and cabbage thoran remains one of my favourite meals.

When in school, it is easy to brush these comments aside. I didn’t know enough to be embarrassed or upset. I didn’t think enough to realise that when she said I smelled like fish she was hinting at something else.

They were talking about how South Indian- how non-veg, I was.

When I started living alone in Dubai, I began to cook a lot of fish in nostalgia. This scared my mother. When I joined a new job, she had only one piece of advice- “Don’t take fish for lunch.”

At first, I thought this was about the smell. Only the smell. Sure, granted, fish does have a very strong piercing smell. But over the past few months, I have been realising that it also has to do with the many divides in India, that are specially packaged and brought into Dubai.

Where does this inability to tolerate fish come from? They lift their noses in the air and put their hands on their chest attempting to control their gag reflexes. How can something so repulsive be consumed in front of me? how can it be offered to me? The offence intended is carefully masked by claims of vegetarianism. Is your choice really that liberal if it comes at the cost of my culture? Is your hatred justified if it stomps all over my memories and feelings?

She came and told me about how she likes South Indians a lot. We have a unique look- which she likes. She has a clear idea of how south Indians must look and must not look, it allows her to get offended when someone asks her if she is South Indian, and retort with comments like, “You look more South Indian than me.”

What do you do when your culture- one that you only began appreciating over the past few years- begins to get threatened? belittled? You have two options- forsake it, and blend in with the norm because you have the privilege to do so; or fall in love with it even harder and defend it from the effects of ignorance.

Of course, I chose the latter. After all, I eat fish, I’m too smart to give up all that I’ve learned so far.


Ex-Machina And More

I saw Ex-Machina the other day, and one specific scene stuck with me- when the two men were discussing a painting that was hung on the wall.

It seemed to be some abstract art, where the artist had apparently stopped thinking for a while just to paint the picture. In the discussion they were having, one guy flips the question. He asks, what if the artist had done it the other way around? What if he chose to think about every stroke he made before he did?

The response- “He would not have made a single mark.”

This seems like a long, twisted way to explain why I haven’t been writing as much, but I am convinced it’s because I seem to be thinking everything through before I even begin, and then reject it before it dares to step on paper (Website). I-


Today is a sad day. It could have been a happy day, but we don’t talk anymore, so it is a sad day.

Do you ever think about that? the celebrations you could have been part of, but aren’t?

It is part of the loss, of the grieving process of losing someone, and over the last few years, I have been losing a lot of people. I say I am doing it to not lose myself, but each time these people leave they take away parts of me that I will miss forever.

Hurts, but we have to keep living I guess.



I woke up to realise that I have been living an empty life over the past year. How can you live in a city that is not real?

I have, in some weird way, allowed myself to be consumed by fear. It is ridiculous and yet so funny to see this happen. It all begins with my heart, and a senior. She starts talking, and my heart starts beating, thumping, outside my chest. I wish I could make this a film and call it love, but as time teaches you- love doesn’t make your heart race, it makes your heart realise there is no need to race.

Fear becomes known to me through throbbing pain behind my ears where suddenly the glasses I have worn since I was 11 feel like a burden. The weight of seeing and hearing burn into my ears. There is a forbidden wish to not do it ever again, to run away and hide instead.

Why am I scared? What am I scared of?

I am scared of not belonging, in a place I clearly don’t belong. But I’ve been taught too much about staying put, especially if someone is trying to make you feel like you don’t belong.

I am scared of not doing a good enough job. But what does it mean to be good if you have no measure of better?

I am scared, in a fake place, of a fake place. I have seen life in all its pains and pleasures, and I am scared I will never feel that again.