Freedom Fight Overview: Geo Baby's latest anthology explores personal choice

Geo Baby’s latest anthology, Freedom Fight, is about repetitive thread freedom. It is about personal choice, lack of responsibility, liberation from the power of another, equality, and the power to change without restraint. None of the five directors (Geo Baby is an established director, the rest are newcomers) give anything that makes the mind turn, but the thought that goes through each film is interesting.

Directed by Akhil Anil Kumar, Rajisha Vijayan’s title Geethu Unchained starts with a coffee conversation between Geethu and her colleague Girish. When he suggests it to her strangely, instead of the inevitable response, she instantly visualizes two situations. If she responds positively, she depicts the early exciting Valentine’s days and the escape and her dreams of finally building a family. But rejection means that he becomes an emotional hunter who plays the victim. She finally takes some time to decide. Geetha also cares for the broken heart. We later hear her open up to a relative about her toxic behavior after the engagement, which prompts her to end the engagement. But she is also the youngest child in a thriving patriarchal family with a mother who does not even allow her to dress as she pleases and a father and brother who rush to marry her. In the office, a female colleague threatens her, and she finds it difficult to stand on her own. Geethu represents many unmarried women of that age who are trapped within families without agency or voice. But despite growing up in the harsh realm of patriarchy, it is interesting that she recognizes the toxic masculinity and dares to end her engagement and persevere in it despite his threats. Also, it shows that her family, friends, and co-workers never allow her to forget that she made a foolish decision. Attempts to add humor by composing random third parties as listeners to the song are not really effective but the narration is very straightforward. Rajisha Vijayan is active, as are the rest of the cast. The closure indicates that her conflict remains unresolved, which seems appropriate.

The second short film directed by Kunjila Muskillamani explores a theme that has never been discussed in Malayalam cinema. Inspired by a real event, the narrative is set on Mittai Street, a shopping street in Kozhikode. There are a lot of women working in various textile shops but all of them are struggling as there are no toilets in the workplace. Tell them to use the washroom of a nearby restaurant during teetime. Although women complain to their respective employers, they are ridiculed and insulted. Looking for guidance from an elderly woman named Viji who runs a sewing unit there. But the first to sow the seeds of rebellion in their minds is the central character played by Srinivasan. When Viji points out that most women are relaxing in the open backyard, Srinda suggests the need to unite for a common cause, resisting men’s obscene comments, and Viji meets with a trade union. Clearly a basic human right, the right to equal consideration and privacy, becomes a daily riot for these women who bravely look to their systematic modesty and cowardice and beg for toilets, only to be ridiculed. This is not about inhumane working conditions; The film also addresses the punitive working hours of sales girls who have to stand for long periods without breaks. At one point, on the advice of her shady manager, Srinivasan pours water into a bottle and takes it back home. Kunjila is meticulous in the details, sometimes ending the austerity with a light humor, like a shaky manager who is accused of making sexually explicit references. The narrative is vivid, practical, and often uncomfortable, vividly depicting the urgency and frustration of women struggling to find toilets and living in fear of embarrassing themselves in public. So much so, that it seems to have consumed their working hours. If there weren’t a few actors who were familiar, you might be forgiven for thinking they made a documentary about women in real life. With the exception of the working tail, the unorganized (unorganized) make a watch that is sensitive and tough.

There are two adjoining houses on Francis Lewis’ ration clip. Someone lives in a lower middle class family working in a ration shop, struggling to make ends meet, and the neighborhood house is in good condition. The bone of contention literally turns into 2 kg of raw kingfish, which is then transferred to another family to be stored in the fridge. This unexpected piece of “bhoga” soon turns into a red masala curry and is enjoyed by the unsuspecting family only to realize that the fish is not meant to be eaten. Among the neighbors, the film draws a vague economic contradiction between the reality of privilege and the reality of inadequacy. Despite being bonhomie and friendly, they enjoy being neighbors, and apparently there is an invisible wall of inequality between them, which is restored in the form of a frozen kingfish. While one family trivializes anything, the other is eager to regain their dignity by paying for their rare luxury bonus. The dichotomy can be frustrating. The narrative keeps it real and subtle as the actors and surroundings live on.

Old Age Home, directed and written by Geo Baby, can be seen as a companion to the Great Indian Kitchen. Although you have an old man (Jojo George) with dementia in your camp, the film addresses the reality of a lot of married women in families who find their release too late in life. Here Lali (Lali PM) is the collective face of married middle-aged women who spend most of their lives enslaved within their families, abandoning their dreams and aspirations for their children and family. It seems that Lali, whose children were married and settled down, has finally started living for herself. She is so involved in her home food enterprise that even her husband’s dementia refuses to stop her. When he complains that she’s not paying attention to him, Lali is only half heard, and her mind is already waiting for the chukka to be sealed and packed on a plate of fried chukka chips. One might argue about her insensitivity, but the truth is that years of domesticity have affected her. She is caring and compassionate and we feel no resentment towards her. There is also a Tamil housemaid (Rohini) who is assigned to take care of her husband and tries to form an unlikely alliance with him. Dhanu, a housemaid, is caught between keeping her job and expressing sympathy to her employer. The film subtly addresses the loneliness of the elderly and how they become unnecessarily close to their own family after a while. Geo treats his actors with care, giving them space to behave and feel comfortable, and to generate sensitive responses.

The most obscure and annoying segment is the one directed by Jitin Isaac Thomas, where a manual scavenger is assigned to clean a septic tank in a minister’s house and finds it dirty and violent. It is true that the film addresses torture and human rights abuses, but the films seem deliberately provocative, graphically violent and outrageous, thereby losing the plot and purpose of the bargain.

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