The Great Indian Kitchen

by Chandrika R Krishnan

The Malayalam movie, The Great Indian Kitchen has been received with accolades, discussions and stoic silence.  Lots have been written about the patriarchy and the way women are supposed to  cook, clean, feed while the men enjoy being waited upon.

But the one aspect that stuck me more than the sheer injustice of the work balance is when the innocent, teasing remark made by her to her husband at the restaurant, ” You do know table manners,” is met with immediate disapproval, displeasure and he holds on to his anger  and doesn’t let go till she apologizes later in the night.  The fact that he and his father leave behind a filthy table after they have eaten ( sent a shudder up my spine for I haven’t come across such filthy eating habits)  and expect the womenfolk to clean it up after just misses his attention.  He waits till she says sorry and then like a parent forgiving a recalcitrant child, he teases her and calls her ” Mrs. Manners,” and beckons her close to him for the mandatory sex not even acknowledging her humiliation. It does not even cross his mind that for a woman her emotions are linked to the physical and to enjoy intimacy immediately after being chastised and made to apologize would have ruined her mood, if at all she had one.    Such relationships can only lead to resentment particularly when she realizes that this indeed is an unequal marriage.

Beautifully made movie with some splendid acting,  I did indeed feel that the amount of food cooked was an exaggeration considering that it was just three of them and  felt temple politics could have been avoided. But then, it was needed to bring the movie to the climax otherwise she would still be stuck in that house with the over-flowing sink!




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