OTTRegional Cinema

Kho-Kho Malayalam Movie Review

Kho-Kho (Malayalam, Amazon Prime Video)

Director Rahul Riji Nair

WritersRahul Riji Nair,Vinayak Sasikumar,Arjun Ranjan

CastRajisha Vijayan,Mamitha Baiju,Venkitesh V P

Plot: In a state where we grew up admiring how coach Nambiar and his protégé Usha brought back athletic glory in truckloads, Kho Kho is a highly relatable tale of a talented athlete transferring her spark of desire onto the next generation.

Rating: ***

Kho-Kho Movie Review: If Hansal Mehta’s Chhalang  were more interesting it would have been Kho-Kho. The idea of coaching an all-girls’ kabbaddi team  to  victory is  as  tempting as  the all-girls’ hockey team in Shimit Amin’s Chak De which came  a good 14  years  ago .

Like  the coach Shah Rukh in Chak De , Rajisha Vijayan  comes  to the  potentially triumphant sports team with a lot of  negative  emotional  baggage. Maria’s marriage  isn’t in the pink of  health. She has  left behind a highly  disgruntled  husband(Venkitesh VP)  who wants  his wife to look after his  mother while he  busies himself with various  failed  business ventured,leaving them in a financial mess.

 Yup, for this  couple it is ‘Till debt do us part.’  Like a lot of  teacher-heroes in our cinema, Maria  is trying to seek a way out of her own problems in  a godforsaken  school in a far-flung town. What sets  her  apart from the  other Alices of aridland, is her disposition to work on whim and act on  impulse even at  the risk of seeming  inconsistent.

Maria  has married a man  her father doesn’t approve   of and  lost the chance  to be  a state-level athlete. But when  in the present ,the captain of  the  kho-kho team Anju(Mamitha Baiju, well played ) falls for the team manager(Ranjit Shekar Nair)  Maria   puts her foot down and even threatens to throw Anju out of the team.

 Though there is some interesting acting all across the film(the director Raju Riji Nair himself plays Maria’s  unctuous  cheesy  colleague with  just the  right  level of  humour) it is the  unknown actor playing Anju’s father who leaves a lingering impact when he tells Anju why  he can’t see tears in his  daughter’s eyes.

Kho Kho doesn’t aspire to be a sports epic. There is  no grand  tournament at  the end , no  enforced  interludes of  victory. The  narration moves at its own volition generating warmth  out of the  raw material of honesty rather than showmanship. The  inter-relationships between Maria and her  husband(reminiscent  of  Vidya Balan and her  husband in the recent Sherni),  between Maria and  the  captain of the team Anju and specially between Maria and her dead father, are  tenderly woven into the sports drama.

Kho Kho has no  great  moments of revelation. But it does  convey a subdued  sense of outrage  at  the  way  the boys whistle  at girls playing what’s  considered  a  boys’  game, or the way the male teachers  talk to or talk about Maria.

 But the and the  protest are never aggressive. And  the  game of  kabbaddi is not an excuse to hammer in a message  on gender  equality, These girls play kho-kho because….well, it’s there.Someone has to do the dirty job.

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