B 32 Muthal 44 Vare, directed by Shruthi Sharanyam, is a film made under the KSFDC’s scheme to provide an opportunity for women filmmakers to make their own films. Shruthi has told in an interview that she feels it is her responsibility to use this opportunity to deliver a movie that ultimately deals with women’s empowerment. Well, oftentimes, when the filmmaker has such an agenda of being political, an evidently preachy tone will be there for the movie, which will result in a lack of craft. Divorce, another film made under the same scheme, is a good example of that. What is really good about Shruthi’s movie is that it is primarily well-crafted, and politics is only the driving force.
The story is actually set in Ernakulam, and we have many women who are in some way interconnected with one another, living a compromised life. Interestingly, these women’s breasts are becoming the limiting factor for them. How they found the courage to fight against all this and how much success they managed to achieve is what we see in B 32 Muthal 44 Vare.
Shruthi Sharanyam starts off the movie in a very episodic way, where all the main characters, Malini, Iman, Ziya, Maya, Rachel, and Nidhi, are introduced to us. After establishing their challenges, Shruthi takes the movie to the second act, where they decide to face those challenges. The good thing about the screenplay is that the film is no longer narrated chapter-wise by the time it reaches that phase, and we are witnessing one single story. It’s interesting how Shruthi places one character’s problem as the other person’s need. Ziya is trying to hide her bigger breasts, while Iman is finding it difficult professionally because of her flat chest. Malini, who had a troubled married life, supports Nidhi’s problematic motherhood. The same pattern is evident in the case of Maya and Rachel too. Instead of saying blandly that society is not that easy for women, Shruthi simply creates dramatic moments and lets the audience look at and analyze the irony.
Ramya Nambeesan, as the cancer fighter Malini portrayed the vulnerabilities and heartbreaks very neatly. Zarin Shihab as Iman was a real surprise, and she performed the insecurities and boldness of that character very believably. The dialogue delivery was also excellent. Ziya was a character that could have gone horribly wrong if overdone. But Anarkali Marakkar kept the performance at a subtle level. Ashwathy, as the maid Jaya delivered a very convincing performance. The transition in that last photo shoot was a joy to watch. Like Ziya, Nidhi was another character that could have gone bad if overdone. But Raina Radhakrishnan was in control of the rendition. Krisha Kurup, as Rachel, also delivered a memorable performance.
As I said, more than politics, there is an evident effort to narrate the story compellingly. There are no isolated characters here, and the interlinking is done very smoothly. I loved the scene where Jaya’s mother-in-law talks in her support, and Shruthi decided to capture that scene without really emphasizing that supporting nature. Maybe she felt if something needs to be normalized, it should not be presented as a great thing to do. Sudeep Elamon’s visuals are mainly on the static side, and it helps the movie set the correct tempo. The two soundtracks in the film blend in with the narrative smoothly.
B 32 Muthal 44 Vare ends with a scene where Shruthi Sharanyam shows us the importance of making children aware of the idea of gender. One thing I found interesting about this film is the men. Usually, makers construct male chauvinist characters or extra supportive ones, making them too much black and white. Here, even the pseudo-feminist director’s character also doesn’t become a complete caricature. And Harish Uthaman and Gibin Gopinath’s characters also feel humane and flawed.
What is really good about Shruthi’s movie is that it is primarily well-crafted, and politics is only the driving force.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended