Siddique’s latest flick – Bhaskar The Rascal – was released in theatres across Kerala on April 15, on the occasion of Vishu. Clearly aimed at cashing in on the festival crowd, the film is a run-of-the-mill entertainer. The story lacks logic, like most other commercial entertainers. The hero is powerful and the heroine is beautiful. There is a set of comedians who provide the essential comic relief and many sets of thugs and high-profile villains for that inevitable climax stunts.
Bhaskar The Rascal has Mammootty playing Bhaskar, a rich businessman who lives with his son Aadhi (Sanoop) and father Shankaran(Janardhanan), who aren’t very proud of this man who beats up goons, talks and behaves like a low-class rube and is ‘irresponsible’.
Aadhi’s best friend Shivani (Anikha) is a spunky girl whose single mother Hima (Nayantara) is a paranoid, who makes puppy-eyed expressions when perverts misbehave with her in public places. When an angry Shivani confronts the perverts, Hima rebukes her. Aadhi loves Hima for the motherly affection she showers on him, Shivani admires Bhaskar for his heroics. The kids decide to bring the two adults together to make that perfect family. What follows is a brainless journey which ends with the couple’s union.
The kids – Anikha and Sanoop – have delivered an impressive performance. They are natural and convincing as the new-age, high-class teens. Nayantara looks gorgeous in Anu Vardhan’s sarees. Mammootty looks handsome – as always. Or perhaps a little more. The character – Bhaskar – offers nothing novel for an actor like him. He has done similar roles countless times (Daddy Cool, Pappayude Swantham Appoos etc ) and he does it again with ease. Shajon, Shaji and Harisree Ashokan do succeed in evoking good laughs.
One of the most celebrated as well as criticised misogynistic movie dialogues in the history of Malayalam cinema belongs to Hitler, a 1996 film directed by Siddique, which had Mammootty playing Madhavan kutty, an extremely protective and possessive brother of five beautiful younger sisters. The first part of the movie was mostly about Madhavan kutty trying to shoo away the secret admirers of the girls. In the second half, the eldest sister is raped by her college professor. The professor later confronts Madhavan Kutty and tells him unapologetically that the rape was an accident that happened when he was drunk. He goes on to say that if the girl had screamed or let out a wail, he would have restrained from raping her, hinting that the girl is as responsible as he is for whatever that happened. The brother breaks down and decides to get the girl married to the professor who is decades elder to her.
Siddique-Mammootty duo joined hands again in 2003, for Chronic Bachelor, which was an extension of what we saw in Hitler. Mammootty played SP aka Satyaprathapan, a rich businessman who is well-known for his hatred for women. The film, much like Hitler, had plenty of conservative, anti-women dialogues.
It isn’t surprising that this film – Bhaskar The Rascal – too has a number of similar instances.
At one point, Bhaskar catches Aadhi weeping silently in his room. He tells the child that he shouldn’t cry like a girl. At another instance, when Shivani cries, Bhaskar asks her not to cry like a girl. Throughout the film, we see Aadhi ridiculed for being sombre and shy – again, like a girl – while Shivani is praised for being a smart tomboy.
Nitpicking Siddique’s films to spot misogyny is a tiring exercise as it’s just endless. But it’s disappointing to see our senior directors employing a superstar like Mammootty to mouth manipulative dialogues which can prove to fatal.