On the face of it, the Arangu theater group looks like a safe space for a woman. Its sole actress, Anjali, appears to enjoy a forthright camaraderie with the rest of the twelve male members. Things are put to a test when one of the members gropes Anjali during a celebratory night out. When her partner and fellow actor Vinay finds out, he calls for a group meeting to decide on the expulsion of the accused. As doubts grow and skeletons come tumbling out, things quickly descend into chaos, with none of the men coming off with flying colors.
In his debut feature film, Anand Ekarshi, deftly deals with a critical feminist issue, but from the flip side. Instead of foregrounding the act of violation against the woman, he trains his camera on how men try to take control of the narrative in the aftermath of an offense. Ekarshi scripts Aattam like a chamber drama, builds the tension bit by bit to a taut, riveting cliffhanger of a climax. Having started his own creative journey on stage, Ekarshi draws from the world of theater and performance arts. The strong, finely tuned ensemble is led by young emerging star Zarin Shihab (The Family Man) and popular names like Vinay Forrt (Premam, Thamasha) and Kalabhavan Shajohn (Drishyam, Lucifer). Aattam is not just an authentic portrayal of patriarchy but also a stinging dissection and critique of toxicity and male entitlement.
Content Advisory: Mild themes of sexual assault