Onam & #HOME

Ten Days of Onam!

Happy Onam, everyone! For the past few years, we had made it a tradition to call our friends over for an Onam sadhya (feast) but Corona put a wet blanket on our celebrations last year. And though things were looking better until a few months ago, the Delta variant dampened our spirits again. But a parcel from home that came filled with goodies and loads of love and the wishes from friends and family made it feel like Onam yesterday.

Just when I was feeling a little low about not being able to celebrate with the usual pomp, we came across a heartwarming movie #Home on Amazon Prime. It is the kind of movie that will make you smile, cry, feel angry, and THINK. The story is very relevant to the times and I think, all of us with parents who are older, new to smart phones and technology, and desperate to stay abreast with the times can relate to the story.

Starring Indrans, Manju Pillai, Sreenath Bhasi, Kainakari Thangaraj, and Naslen K. Gafoor in key roles, the movie addresses realities of life that most of us are familiar with. An elderly couple taking care of an even older person, one son who shot to fame with his first movie and lives by himself and a younger son who is an avid YouTuber make up #Home. I don’t want to give away the story here, so I’ll simply talk about the characters, each of whom has a distinct personality.

Let’s start with Oliver Twist, played by Indrans. After seeing him only in slapstick comedy roles, Indrans has given one of his career-best performances. As a father of two, a caretaker of his aging father, and someone who wasn’t too successful in life, Indrans aces as a man trying to desperately catch up with the changing times: smart phones, online shopping, and most importantly, communicating with his children, who only have time for their own lives.

Manju Pillai plays a character who much older than her real age, and has done a good job of it. She is a nurse, who now takes care of her ailing father in law and the home. Though she is constantly complaining about her bad knee, she still gets everything done around the house.

Kainakiri Thangaraj plays Indrans’ father, a man going through the difficulties that aging brings: memory loss, incontinence, loneliness, all combined with flashes of old memories that make quote lines from famous English novels and type away at his old typewriter, his faculties not realizing that there is no ink in the machine.

The hippy-trippy boy from Da Thadiya and North 24 Kaadham —Sreenath Bhasi — has come a long way from singing My Love, you’re my panjasara, to Antony, a brooding, grumpy, and bitter writer/director who hit the jackpot with his first movie but has to go through hell and beyond to complete his second script. Distracted by an up and down relationship, serious addiction to his phone and social media (where he sees other people’s success and compares it to his current inabilities), he plays the older son who is ashamed of his father’s nothingness.

Mr. P and I enjoyed watching Naslen, who plays Charles the younger brother. His dialogue delivery was natural and the boy had a certain charm. Charles stays at home and takes full advantage of being the youngest in the family. While he exudes selfishness, there’s is also a child-like aspect to his antics that make his character lovable.

One of the things I loved was the way the director has incorporated mental health issues and emphasized on the fact that there’s nothing wrong in meeting a psychologist even if the only issue you have is sleeplessness. Vijay Babu, who plays the psychologist, explains his role with a wonderful example: he compares his work to that of a person who cleans. Just like a cluttered room can make us feel confused and depressed, and cleaning becomes a sort of catharsis,he says that a psychologist can help de-clutters a messy brain to make us feel rejuvenated. Such a light and positive portrayal of mental health issues and the importance of addressing them was very refreshing.

What does the movie teach? We all have multiple character traits or faces that we showcase in different social settings, but then there’s one, the most important face that we present only to our closest family members. Why? Because we know that they will understand and accept it, regardless of how bad it is. For instance, only my parents, Mr. P, and maybe Ms. G have seen my anger, tears, and laughter… because these are the people in front of whom I can express my emotions without being judged. Like Antony says in the end, “I can be imperfect only at #home.”

Until I write again, stay safe and happy at #home.

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