Iruttu Arayil Murattu Kuththu: An uninventive adult comedy that mistakes sexual references for humour

 

The best compliment I can pay Iruttu Arayil Murattu Kuththu (IAMK) is that a few sparse moments are better written than in the director’s previous adult comedy, Hara Hara Mahadevaki. If at all these stretches work, it’s because the genre, this time, is more in tune with all the sex references that are being peddled in the name of comedy. IAMK is a horror comedy — yes, that blasted genre — but with an adult twist. The ghost in this film is desperate for some action, and caught in its mansion are a bunch of desperate men who just cannot get any action. I know what you are thinking. The premise does feel ripe for some great adult humour, but sadly, precious little is forthcoming.

Unless you, like students in a sex education class, are prone to breaking into uncontrollable giggles any time you hear any public reference to sex. The vast majority of college-going audience I had the unique experience of watching this film with seemed to have a ball (and this is the sort of pun they would likely break into laughter about). A female character in IAMK is shown planting a well-placed kick at a man’s genitals… and laughter. Two men are shown to get an erection… and laughter. One man is shown to be turned on by another… and laughter. The audience seemed entranced by any and all references to sex — and that pretty much sums up the film. For the director’s last film, post-release, a disclaimer was shared from the makers demanding a one-minute silence for anyone who expected a story in it. They could well use it again.

Iruttu Arayil Murattu Kuththu
Director: Santhosh Jayakumar
Cast: Gautham Karthik, Karunakaran, Vaibhavi

IAMK is clearly targetted at the vast majority of our youngsters who have been raised in prudish environments that discourage any public conversation about sex. The film with all its references — humour be damned — plays right into their hands. Everything from wet pants to random overdose of viagra pills to silhouettes of people caught in the act (a rare inventive scene in the film) is supposed to be a joke. That it has been conceived with an A-certificate in mind gives it a lot of freedom to make the sort of creative adult jokes we hardly see in our films, but the makers seem quite happy to piggyback on stereotypes. The A-certificate is used less to come up with clever adult jokes (the only one gets used in the teaser, and even there, it’s milked beyond its efficacy) and more to engage in crass objectification of women. There’s much effort put into sexualisation of its female characters, which would have been less a problem in a funnier film. When it’s a joke that works, anything goes. When it isn’t — like in the case of vast portions of IAMK — you are just left with offensive visuals of female actors who are constantly filmed in compromising postures.

Towards the end, IAMK also engages in homophobia. I found it refreshing that an actor as popular as Karunakaran signed up to play a homosexual (much power to him), but the character’s treatment in the film is downright distasteful. The lead characters are constantly shaming him for being one. The usual “Avanaa nee?” of course gets used. In a later scene, a straight male claims that it’s on account of such gay men that he is unable to walk safely in public. A particularly horrific moment is when a girl implies that gay encounters don’t count as a loss of virginity. The gay man gets a forced dialogue that is designed to reveal that he’s also been with women in the past. Every time we get adult content that propagates existing harmful ideas over minority communities, we all take a collective step back in progress. IAMK takes us on a long walk back.

As for the jokes, save for a stretch or two, there’s barely any sign of inventiveness. The jokes for the most part are tedious, and the innuendoes juvenile, unless I suppose, you are an excitable teenager. Simply because it’s an adult film, a woman walks around with a shirt captioned ‘orgasm’. Men walk around with underwear that bear the image of a banana. It’s a mark of deep sexual repression in our society that the theatre resounded with laughter at these silly references. It’s an audience that is laughing less at the actual jokes and more at the idea of such explicit content being allowed for public screening. More mainstream adult-rated films must be made, if only so filmmakers and actors can work with themes otherwise considered to be taboo. In that sense, I’m happy that director Santhosh Jayakumar has made adult comedies for his first two films. But please, could you try and challenge existing stereotypes and if that’s too much to ask, at least write better humour please? If all we are getting in the name of an adult comedy is infantile references to sex, then I do have to say that IAMK is a fitting title that speaks of people like me who are forced to negotiate such mirthless content within the dark confines of a theatre.

This column was written for Cinema Express, the cinema division of The New Indian Express. All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to its page if you’d like to share it.

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