Morality and the human urge to scrutinise fellow beings in the name of it is a phenomenon that is as old as the history of mankind. The so called Victorian Moral Codes were propagated throughout the British Empire and it’s hardly surprsing that it has found immense acceptance in God’s Own Country where we welcome everything foreign with wide open arms and one might be tempted to label us a regressive bunch but allow me to remind you that we had nothing to do with Monica Lewinsky turning an anti-bullying activisit or Lady Di’s demise in a French tunnel. Joy Mathew returns as a writer after Shutter and also acts in Uncle which deals with the ideas of morality and the hypocrisy that runs deep in the lives of us Malayalis.
If Joy Mathew impressed you with his skills as a writer in Shutter which also dealt with a similar theme, its his subtle and restrained performance as an actor that makes you sit up and take notice of, in Uncle. Yes, its a Mammootty film and may have been a much needed breather of a hit for the star but still he is little more than eye candy in this movie which almost entirely belongs to Joy Mathew and Muthumani. For an actor who has roles like Bhaskara Patelar, Ahmad Haji and the more recent Raghavan in his resume this role is cakewalk for Mammootty and throws up no serious challenges to his skills as an actor or image as a family idol. Joy Mathew on the other hand has elevated himself to another level in a role that must have struck a chord with the predicament that every middle aged dad finds himself in Kerala today. It does’nt help that every relationship is compartmentalised and when they collide, havoc it wreaks in minds and hearts. Muthumani’s role of a regular Malayali mother is a slow burner that goes full throttle in the climax. Most of the movie takes place either inside a house or inside a car and the writer and director have skillfully entwined the scenes here which keeps the audience interested in the proceedings on the screen.
Though i have had my differences with Joy Mathew’s responses to various issues on social media, here he has taken an interesting position, politically and socially, and his observations are bang on target too. The message that he delivers ultimately is that when it comes to moral policing in Kerala, people unite beyond barriers of religion and political beliefs, its the manifestation of basic human nature, at the end of the day. You cannot fight the mob, but you need not submit to their bullying either. The only part where the movie falters is when it has to cosy up to the image of the star,towards the end, I felt. If Mammootty walked off the sets of Masterpiece to that of Uncle, Joy Mathew the writer must have had a hard time convincing him that beating up and bouncing bad guys off the ground is not the answer everytime.