Lal Jose’s Malayalam film proceeds along at a largely uneventful, even pace, killing all hopes of any excitement
Everything on screen has a purpose in the narrative, especially so in the case of a cat, in Meow. It is supposed to be there either for that good old ‘save the cat’ trick (which is a narrative technique wherein the protagonist would save the cat), thus making the audience root for him/ her, or to deliver some big life lesson to one of the characters.
In Lal Jose’s Meow, it is the latter, although one is left wondering as to what lesson he has learned going by how the movie proceeds towards the climax.
Dasthakeer (Soubin Shahir), a supermarket owner at a small town in the United Arab Emirates, is going through a tough phase in life. His wife Sulu (Mamta Mohandas) has left home to live with her parents, fed up with Dasthakeer’s anger management issues, leaving him to take care of their three children. He relies on his driver Chandran (Harishree Yousuf) to take care of the affairs at home, until the arrival of an Azerbaijani woman as a domestic help, changes the equation.
Lal Jose teams up with screenwriter Iqbal Kuttippuram, with whom he has had some successful collaborations, for the fourth time. Though at the centre of the film is the discord between Dasthakeer and Sulu, it is also as much about his transformation from his young, carefree days, when he is shown to be a firebrand student politician and later, a fun-loving party animal. A drunken drive and an accident just before his marriage changes his outlook, with an ultra-conservative Ustad (Salim Kumar) pushing him towards a devout life, eschewing all pleasures.
The script, at a later point, rightly condemns this hypocritical and fundamentalist view, which polices people for their choices in attire or music. But, at the same time, the writer repeatedly lampoons a person from another country, even going to the extent of saying that his behaviour is explained by the country of his origin.
The way the relationship between Dasthakeer and Sulu is treated also makes one wonder as to where the film stands, for it is clear that it is she who is the aggrieved party here, with her higher studies cut short and having to tolerate his controlling behaviour and bouts of anger.
It would seem that the film is only concerned with somehow uniting the two. The cat comes in here, as if to be a catalyst for their coming together. The small twist in the tale, revealing the actual reason for her staying away, feels rather contrived.
Meow is one of those films that does not hit any highs or lows, and proceeds along at a largely uneventful, even pace. Rocking the boat is prevented at all costs, thus killing all hopes of any excitement.
Meow is currently running in theatres
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