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Name of the movie - Kaathal - The Core

Language - Malayalam

Genre - Drama

Streaming platform - Amazon Prime

Duration - 114 minutes

A Sensitive & Nuanced Portrayal of the LGBTQIA+

Narayani Manapadam reviews Kaathal-The Core

The Jeo Baby-directed film has been getting rave reviews from critics and viewers alike, and it’s not difficult to see why.


Firstly, let’s doff our hats to the film crew for handling the sensitive issue with dignity and grace. Jeo Baby is known for tackling hard-hitting topics. His earlier venture, The Great Indian Kitchen, showed the middle finger to patriarchy in a quiet, unassuming manner. Mammootty is the superstar of Malayalam cinema who needs no introduction. Known for his tremendous acting caliber, he is also a swashbuckling crowd-puller. Jyothika has also proved her mettle in many a Tamil movie, although very few have done justice to her immense talent. It takes courage to put one’s heart and soul into such a film in an era where intolerance is on the rise everywhere and boycott trends go viral at the drop of a hat.



Mathew Devassy and Omana have been married for 20 years and seem to lead a content life with the senior Devassy and their teenage daughter Femi. Mathew decides to contest the local elections in his village. Omana drops a bomb by filing a divorce petition, citing mental cruelty. Scared that the scandal may impede the voting against his favour, Mathew contests the claim. Will Omana get justice? Will the until-now upright Mathew come out of the closet?



Seldom has an Indian film dealt with such themes with the sensitivity they deserve. Thanks to the zero-censor approach on OTT platforms, most filmmakers confuse liberalism with sleaze and cuss words. There is nothing wrong with the portrayal of sex, be it between homosexual or heterosexual couples. But unless they propel the narrative forward, the scenes are useless. They succeed in titillating the viewers but do nothing for the LGBTQIA+ community.  In Kaathal - The Core, every frame and every dialogue is understated and subtle.


The word homosexual is uttered for the first time 60 minutes into the film. Even then, it doesn’t throw us off our seats, thanks to the subtle hints that the director threw at us from the beginning.


The courtroom scene where Jyothika states that they had sex only four times in the entire duration of their marriage hits hard, but it is delivered without any melodrama. Another poignant scene is where the senior Devassy seeks forgiveness from his son for not understanding his child’s sexual leanings. The characters behave in a gracious manner throughout the film and bear no ill feelings towards others.


Malayalam cinema is mostly set in Christian settings, and it is not surprising to see religious motifs like the Cross and statues of Jesus & Virgin Mary. Here, they assume significance as the conservative Roman Catholic community, initially sceptical about Mathew’s case, casts their aspersions aside and votes for progress and development.


One cannot ignore the role of Ms Ameena here. As a headscarf-wearing lawyer supporting Omana and bringing lots of statistics about homosexuals to the court, the Muslim woman smashes stereotypes in her own unique way.


Definition of Love

Why did Omana divorce Mathew? It was not just to seek revenge on her husband but to set him free. Letting go of someone you love or have grown to love is torturous, but Omana does that with dignity and grace. After the divorce, Mathew misses her too. Despite the lack of intimacy in their marriage, their love is deep and has transcended the physical realms. It is pure at its core.



Mammootty and Jyothika steal the show. It is easily their career-best performance. The rest of the cast do their jobs with perfection. The senior Devassy, played by RS Panicker, has mouthed only a few lines, but with aplomb. Sudhi Kozhikode, the other gay character, has a calm and soothing presence in every frame.



I cannot end this review without talking about the end. Mathew supports his ex-wife Omana in looking for prospective future partners. Thankan, his lover, is happy as he looks at Mathew from the rearview mirror of his car. The viewers see the car cruising along an empty road. A colourful rainbow looms over the blue sky and a poster announces Mathew’s historical victory in the elections.


If this is not sheer brilliance, I don’t know what is.


Rating - 4.5/5

Image by Denise Jans

Narayani is an IT Professional, lost in the dreary world of Excel. However, she seeks solace in Word (pun intended). She has garnered appreciation for her stories, poems & travelogues in various literary platforms like Penmancy, ArtoonsInn, Beyond The Box & Asian Literary Society. Her works have found a permanent place in various anthologies & magazines from The Hive Publishers, Pachyderm Tales, Chrysanthemum Chronicles, MeanPepperVine, & Asian Literary Society. She is the recipient of the Sagar Memorial Award 2023 (3rd Prize) in the category of Children’s Story. She resides in Jamshedpur with her accountant husband Venkatesh and her impish cat Uttam. Her website is ]

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