Gouthami & Jayaram in Rajasenan’s Ayalathe Adheham (1992)

I’ve enjoyed watching Ayalathe Adehham (1992) many times over for its situational humour. The film is about two families, neighbouring households, let’s say one red and one yellow for convenience… However, there is also third family, an older family in comparison to our younger red and yellow.. let’s call it blood red. They bring about the climax..

The problems begin when the wife from the red family starts to notice from her window the mush the yellow husband pours out to his wife daily for the littlest of things .. Even though, the yellow neighbour is her friend the red wife begins to envy her. All this yellow mush and her red disappointment increases every time she sees her red husband who is publicly inexpressive to the extent of being boorish.

Rajasenan, the director, goes on to discuss love between spouses, ways of expressing it and its expectations. Fed up with taunts of his wife…the red husband who dearly loves his wife decides on a yellow makeover becoming love expressive. Unfortunately, he is assumed to be mentally deranged…which shows a clean disconnect between their choice of the shade of yellow😀 Nobody seems to understand the trouble that brews within the red husband burdened with these yellow expectations until the climax when he rips off the mask (helmet) of the yellow husband! Even he is stunned at the unexpected turn of events. All the red rage, frustration and disappointment is shown in the way this man chases and catches a thief who happens to be the yellow husband. A mask falls off.. The yellow family is shattered! So is the blood red family.

The film is a warning to all red husbands and those spouses who fail to express an affection to their spouses. What to do, people have different natures.. The red husband is an easy target to pin all the boorishness on because our society has stamped men unemotional, insensitive, forgetful masculine beings in domesticity…. (Poor them) …The climax clearly brings out a possible future life situation in this red family. It is bleak if things remain red!!! If the red wife still looks up to yellow mush and the red husband resists a change… If only the film had ended on a shade of orange.

Departing from the exaggeration depicted in the film into reality.. it need not be always a kiss or a hug, every relationship has a unique way of showing affection. I felt really sad for my aunt this one time, we were out for lunch. 5 of us. DJ, MJ & me, and my uncle and his wife. My mother was eating only fish that week, so when the menu card came, DJ who was sitting on the outer edge of the table ordered fish for MJ right away.. He ordered chicken for me with a loose gravy since I prefer it to fish.. That care and a knowhow of a food choice is also an expression of love.. But this is everyday for us.. If either MJ or I were sitting with the menu we would have also done the same without a second thought. The uncle ordered a thali* for himself..but in the midst of all this my aunt was ignored. She never said anything either when all of us ordered additions to the already ordered menu. Not that there wasn’t sufficient food on the table for all but .. The dishes were anyway going to be shared as they were not served in portion size .. Realizing this a little later, I nudged my uncle sitting next to me… In that moment, she would have wanted uncle to order for her more than anyone of us..(they are also a loving couple) this made her a teeny bit sad and it was evident… It was one of those times..(she may have kicked my uncle under the table..) I did scold DJ later for missing out the aunt.. He did not realize, either!

To give you another example, one of my friends is allergic to corn. Wherever we go out, whoever has the menu card involuntarily tells the waiter, this dish but without corn.. We are careful to order something in addition to popcorn even at the theater.. It is not a spousal relationship we share.. Still that is also love..

There is a hidden sense of a comparison in the name of the film itself because ‘Ayalathe’/അയലത്തെ means neighbour/neighbourhood.. Adheham/അദ്ദേഹം is a (respectful) way of referring to people, in this case husbands… it exudes this Hindi word ‘aap’ kind of respect..

*thali