We have seen quite a few preachy films on matrimonial harmony in the past, and the latest Malayalam film, Veruthe Oru Bharya -- starring Jayaram and Gopika -- adds to the list. Directed by Akku Akbar, the film seems to say that a wife is not an indentured labourer.
The credits roll with a lady waking up at 5 am, and getting into drudgery of domestic work until 11 pm. As she lays down to bed, we saw her husband coming on to her. The credits end with the clock showing 5 am. This is the best summary of a film's story, shown in a couple of minutes.
The lady in question is Bindu (Gopika), the wife of a chauvinist husband Sugunan (Jayaram). An employee of the Electricity Board, he has conventional notions of what a wife is meant for and where her place is in the scheme of things.
Bindu does not get time to visit her ailing mother, as household chores occupy all her time. Plus, she has to deal with her teenaged daughter Anjana (Niveditha), and her growing demands.
As the film builds up, we realise that Bindu will reach her breaking point soon. We see hints like when Bindu attends her brother's engagement against her husband's orders or the scene where Sugunan humiliates his father-in-law (Innocent) for pilferage of electricity for decorating his house on the occasion of his son's wedding.
But it is during interval when Bindu cannot take it any more, and declares that she is taking voluntary retirement from being a housewife. The omnipotent slap by the husband comes minutes after interval, which makes the wife leave home.
The second half takes a different route by showing the fear of a father in bringing up his daughter single-handedly.
Gireesh Kumar's script does not ever leave the preachy tone. Besides marital harmony, the film also preaches about the misuse of cell phones and internet by teenagers.
Sugunan is uncouth and primitive in his manners and beliefs. But Jayaram induces his own charm with sprinkling of mirth into his performance. We rarely feel distaste towards the character thanks to him. Gopika as Bindu is shown mature beyond her age. It is the performance of the lead pair that keeps our eyes glued to this preachy film.