Anuraj Manohar’s Ishq – Not A Love Story channelizes the tagline by etching out an incidence which sprouts questions related to patriarchy as well as immorality in an uprooting manner. Firstly, it uproots the patriarchy while collocating it with religion; secondly, it gazes through masculinity and its aftermath – both the factors provide a catharsis. Ishq is one of the rare films which grows and channelizes the thought-process long after it’s ended. And the social vice (moral policing) behind the crucial factors such as feminism, chauvinism and masculinity are at stake, there’s nothing black-and-white, it’s all grey. Hence, Ishq stands tall with its honest commitment towards the craft and sensitively venturing through the societal norms. And becomes a catharsis of social pathos which is often a key element in Malayalam Cinema known as realism.
Ishq unravels through Sachi (Shane Nigam) having a phone conversation with Vasudha (Ann Sheetal), director Anuraj Manohar constraints the narrative at Sachi’s point-of-view. The couple encounter Alwin (Shine Tom Chako) and Mukundan (Jaffer Idukki), the two exploit the couple in meanest moral policing and corrupt manner. The incidence sets mutual trust on fire, Ishq lives up the tagline and engrosses with a thrilling aspect is more about its aftereffect and accumulation (I advise you’d watch the film first and then read the review). Ishq serves as a reflective mirror of the patriarchal society where the men behold the supremacy and protect the women, screenwriter Ratheesh Ravi gradually strips off the layers of the contemporary society. While it diligently contradicts itself to depict how society resorts and reacts; it draws a wafer thin line between love and passion by trading the deep rooted patriarchy. At first, it starkly reminds of Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Sexy Durga (2017), here, avenging the patriarchy with patriarchy makes a divergence. Writer Ratheesh Ravi and Director Anuraj Manohar’s observant skills play an important role, for instance, minute physical changes in Sachi during the whole episode which is complimented in the second half in an vengeful manner – Sachi’s eroding morals can be seen precisely extracted through the physiological changes. Even with Vasudha, who bears the burn of patriarchy, the traumatic hovers and subdues through an impactful climax.
Cinematographer Ansarsha captivates the claustrophobia and helplessness with the trauma venting out through the frames while Jakes Bejoy’s BGM simmers silently and evokes necessary impact. Ishq – Not A Love Story stands tall on its content and the complimentary Screenplay broken down into, what I call, the hunt and the hunted leaves a non-preachy message which deeply accumulates and uproots the masculinity as well as hyper-inflated male ego. It’s not about sex, it’s about power; the male power which hunts and questions woman’s chastity rather than her safety after such a traumatic incidence – exposing toxic masculinity.
Shane Nigam delivers a stellar performance, he effortlessly travels through shades of flamboyant lover ceasing love through revenge. Shine Tom Chacko delivers a riveting performance who evokes uncomfortable intimidation. Ann Sheetal perfectly wears the trauma and character assassination Vasudha is subjected to, delivering a laudable performance. While Leona Lishoy as Alwin’s wife delivers suitably aplomb performance – would love to witness these two actresses scaling up with such remarkable character roles.
Director Anuraj Manohar and Writer Ratheesh Ravi uproot the hyper-inflated male ego (patriarchy) through a powerful film; it’s about the power of Cinema which reflects and evokes pathos underlying deep into our society.
Release: 17 May, 2019
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