The premise of Madhu C Narayanan’s directorial debut Kumbalangi Nights bears an eerie resemblance to Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s widely acclaimed film Shoplifters. Both films challenge the very definition of family. While Shoplifters explicitly deals with this theme, Kumbalangi Nights tackles all that while making a strong comment on masculinity.
Madhu’s story unfolds in Kumbalangi, an island village on the outskirts of Kochi. The narrative revolves around four disgruntled brothers whose lives are a train wreck since their mother decided to abandon them. Writer Syam Pushkaran’s screenplay establishes the dysfunctional relationship shared by the brothers — Bobby, Saji Napoleo, Bonny and Franky — in a slapstick way very early on. And the writer uses not more than a few words while introducing the main antagonist, The Complete Man.
Shammi (Fahadh Faasil) is in awe of his bushy and old-school moustache. His fashion style is a throwback to a bygone century. He summaries his personality, which is patriarchal toxic male, when he invokes a famous punchline of a TV commercial: Raymond – The Complete Man. He is an embodiment of everything that traditionally qualifies him as “The Complete Man”, including his outdated walrus moustache. He wants all women in his life to be subservient to him and play by his rules. Even a slight opposition from the opposite sex makes him spiral out of control. Something as simple as taking the head seat at a dining table makes him feel so powerful and important.
Shammi believes that controlling the desires and actions of women makes him a hero. In his own words, The Complete Man. In reality, he is inconsiderate, regressive and a total creep.
If Shammi did not make the idea of The Complete Man look undesirable, then I don’t know what will.
Kumbalangi Nights is available on Amazon Prime Video.