Sesham Mike-il Fathima(Malayalam, Netflix)
Starring Kalyani Priyadarshan
Written & Directed by Manu C Kumar
Rating: ** ½
It is always a joy to see Kalyani Priyadarshan light up the screen with her vivacious presence. Sadly,she is the only reason to watch this sternly selfaware film about a Muslim girl trying to become a football commentator in the conservative district of Malappuram.
We all love an underdog history. On the level of intention, the sweet tempered film gives us no reason to complain. Fathima(Kalyani Priyadarshan) is chirpy, constantly curious and a chattering daughter to a loving doting parents Muneer(Sudheesh) and Fatima(Priya Sreejith). Her brother Asif(Aneesh Menon) also dotes on his baby sister.
Fathima is pampered spoilt and giddy-headed. She will do what she wants to.Being a Malayali she knows so much about football .Why doesn’t she just bend it like Beckham instead of being so keen to sit in the commentary box?
Significantly she faces no hurdles in her ambitious, except one pompous cartoonish patriarch who challenges and insults her at a wedding. Even there, before we feel sorry for Fathima a young man jumps to her defence. And the fingerwagging moralist is turned into a brunt of ridicule.
Everywhere she goes, she gets love and support.When a sports minister Jayesh Nair (Sabumon Abdusamad) tries to take advantage of her, the mood and tone of the sequence in humorous. In the light of recent incidents of female sports persons’ serious allegations against sports authorities, this kind of trivialization of a serious issue is incongruous and mildly offensive. I say ‘mildly’, as the director aims to keep the proceedings light; so light that much of the essential impact of the film is dissipated and all we are left with is a frothy bubbly beer mug foaming at the top with the actual beverage missing.
Sesham Mike-il Fathima is not entirely devoid of merit. It has its moments of bull’s eye humour. I liked the female bromance between Fathima and her helpful friend Ramya(Femina George). At one point in the uneven screenplay Fathima lands up in the hospital with Ramya paying the bills. When Fathima tries to be thankful Ramya gets sarcastic. “Yeah I had to sell my house and the land around it to pay the bills. Now I only have a cow.”
I wish there were more such genuinely livewire moments here. Most of the time the characters feel like puppets on a string mouthing lines that are more illustrative than situational. The climax with filmmaker Gautam Vasudev playing Fathima’s guardian angel and saviour is embarrassing in its patronizing subtext: a woman with dreams needs an empowered ‘enlightened’ man to get them(the dreams) activated.
Wish Menon would stop acting. He seems to think he is good at it.Luckily Fathima doesn’t just think she is good at what she wants to do.