I watched Aruvi from a local theatre which seemed too old to be even standing in a city where everything seemed new the next day. Being the only girl amidst a crowd of some twenty men made me a bit uneasy, even made me question my intentions of travelling long distances to watch a film that may or may not even be worth it. The uncertainty certainly didn’t feel good.
There was something eerily glorious about the posters, a psychedelic hue that made me even more curious. That’s how I ended up watching Aruvi. Even when all the men stared as I walked into the theatre. Even as I clapped and hooted. Even when they rebuked me asking why I needed the address of such a ‘local’ theatre. Even with all their slurs.
How do you make sense of a movie calling out to you saying, “Come, watch me now, you may not really get a chance later to watch me on big-screen”? What is that restlessness that will never let go unless and until you watch it? It sounds weird to write this out loud, but it felt as if Aruvi was seducing me with her posters (I still wonder why sanghis haven’t started jumping on the Goddess-holding-gun poster!). She gave me the strength to endure in spite of everything that seemed deterrent. The film felt like a living, breathing thing to me.
Two hours later, I come out of the theatre with a beaming smile and a hangover. The hangover from seeing little Aruvi almost ride a bike. Watching her cry as her father is late to pick her up. Yelling in pain as her father demolishes the lice on her hair. The Aruvi who checks out her own ass and blows herself a kiss. She, who never succumbs to bullshit. And Emily whose azhaku and love knows no bounds, who knows real well that men who don’t even bother to spare a glance even if Aiswarya Rai walked on the street, would gaze in admiration at her beauty. So much self-respect and strength effusing out of her that you would spit on the clichés that Malayalam films still squeeze in films in the garb of humour.
The intended sarcasm towards the society’s consumerism, the media being under trial by the ordinary woman (quite a role-reversal from the usual trial-by-media narratives) and sentimental stereotyping are political questions that deserve attention of critics. For me, at least for now, only the aesthetic/emotional question matters. This is not a film review because this cannot be one, for Aruvi is a feeling, an emotional outburst, a waterfall. It is about those little things you did as a girl, those little jibes at your heart. How can one even try to ascertain, to measure this? We can only let it flow, let it feel and let it hurt. There lies the beauty of Aruvi’s magic.