While watching ‘Freedom Fight’, one thing that I kept noticing was how unorthodox the choices of narration that the makers had employed. From its shot selection to the infusion of atmospheric soundscape instead of manipulative music, these choices create an impact on how strikingly different these films seem from the recently released Indian anthologies and how the short segments stand out for the better. To understand the effect of the film in its entirety, it is important to get to the bottom of each tale individually.

The segment ‘Geethu Unchained’, directed by Akhil Anilkumar stars Rajisha Vijayan in the titular role of Geethu. She works in a corporate office and spends most of her days in the daily ins and outs of the same job. Since she is at an age where parents keep bugging their kids for marriage, she is annoyed by their constant pursuit in the same direction. At her office, she has broken up with a colleague and she is frustrated by the pursuit of another one. In all of these pursuits, the decisions are taken for her by someone else and these decisions would lead to her being confined by the limits and control of someone else. This theme of entrapment is dealt with needed fervor and understanding. Rajisha’s performance becomes a highlight of this short which takes a comical approach to spill out the bitter truths about living as a woman.

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With ‘Asanghadithar’, the director Kunjila Mascillamani takes us through the lives of unorganized women workers from a town in Kerala. These workers from local garment shops ask for solving the basic issue of sanitation for them. And through their conflict, it highlights the daily misogyny and sexist attitude that has become part of their world. Using largely a documentary-style approach, the camera hovers around these women while expressing their gritty reality in a biting manner. The tension slowly builds over and meanwhile, the narrative shines through its bits of sharp observations. While serving as an informative piece for similar conflict in real life, it also demonstrates the inevitability that is a result of both patriarchy and bureaucracy.

Freedom Fight (1)

To illustrate the effects of financial equality, Francies Louis makes use of food as an element to take us through his narrative. ‘Ration’ shows two households living adjacent to one another. One of a ration store worker and the other of a well-to-do family. What for one is a luxury is for another person a mere afterthought, a petty nothing that they can waste without a second thought. While making the same case to the viewers, the short film also touches upon the idea of status and how the virtual world is luring to create a façade of a higher status to be included in a bigger circle. 

‘Old Age Home’ by Jeo Baby presents the story of an old retiree who is coping with the signs of dementia. The fading memory creates an unease in him that reflects in the acting by Joju George. With his performance, he never overdoes the body language and becomes the guiding path to the themes in this deeply moving tale about the feeling of abandonment. His eyes speak volumes for the emptiness in them signifies the emptiness in the life of any person his age. In this story, the idea of exercising freedom is what the three characters struggle with. While he is trying to make peace with his fading memory and diabetes, his wife is trying to work on her unfulfilled desires of ambition. The maid working for them is in her predicament of abandonment. The freedom to act as they please is robbed of them. And while being kept away from such freedom in the years before, it feels cruel to be still subjected to it. The film excels with its subtle approach that shines due to its ingenious direction and performances.

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Jithin Issac Thomas’s ‘Pra Thoo Mu’ shares with us a conflict that occurs between an influential minister and a septic tank cleaner who he has appointed. It presents a revenge saga with the subject of caste at the centre and paints the characters in the bold strokes of black and white. For its minimal plot that unfolds like a conventional revenge proceeding, it uses heightened drama with hyper-stylized techniques. Despite talking about such a pertinent issue, this short film fits unevenly with the narrative tonality of the others, which implement an understated approach. So despite being potent and emotionally charged, it strikes out even in terms of the transition from the previous one. 

The best part about ‘Freedom Fight’ is the clear link of the idea of freedom at the core of each of its segments. And the exploration of its pertinent themes becomes more affecting because of the great understanding of time and space by the makers, which keeps you glued to the screen. As a result, the filmmaking from the anthology shines just as much as the importance of its subject matter.

Freedom Fight is now streaming on SonyLIV


Freedom Fight Links – IMDb
Freedom Fight Cast – Joju George, Rohini, Rajisha Vijayan, Srindaa

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