This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Lochan Sharma. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

‘Kumbalangi Nights’ Review: Rebelling Against The Odd Regressive Ways Of Life

More from Lochan Sharma

I recently saw the Malayalam-language movie, Kumabalangi Nights, which has been saved in “My List” for a long time on an OTT platform after my friends recommended it to me. It is another impressive movie, or I would rather call it vaguely cinema, but profoundly a tangible illustration of narratives propagated around love, life, career and most importantly, “manhood” and “womanhood”. 

There is a lot that comes to my mind when I talk about this movie. The movie sets the stage on the unhinged peace of life of four unrelated brothers after losing their father and their mother (who is alive but is in reverence to God). Certainly, their disrupted peace of life is stipulated through financial insecurities, alcoholism, aggressive behaviour, for the least, which touches upon their love lives too. 

Conventional wisdom, the harsh reality of the “progressive society” we live in, pinpoints financial securities and a secured job as defining traits for a man to be suitable for marriage prospects. Especially in arranged marriages, there is a definite concern of how stable a person is (financially), but do you think that must not and should not apply merely to a male counterpart? 

Frankly, the concern must not merely be about financial stability, but more about individuality, personality and the way two people would find that space to feel connected holistically under this branded institution of marriage. 

On the contrary, when it comes to love marriages, these discussions go to and fro with all forms of blaming on both prospects involved. But I believe every story must find a suitable way of handling their situations better (in that case, until they find themselves mature enough to handle their marriage, it could be kept on hold, but not in denial). 

Unlike what we see with our families, once parents are informed, they question and force their decision over their children, and it becomes worse when it comes to a female. First, she undergoes a round of character assassination and then has to stand firm to prove her compatibility in front of their family and other relatives. 

Kumbalangi Nights
Still from the movie.

Taking this issue further, I find at various instances how a person, be it male or female ( two genders in this movie), has to preserve the determining specifications on manhood or womanhood. The opening frames of the movie show an overt pride of a man over his manhood through this fully grown, well-trimmed and perfectly aligned moustache, followed by self-appreciation in the mirror of a massive chest with all air pumped in. 

In multiple instances, this financial stability comes as a depiction of manhood because that affects the rest of man’s personality. Merely being a cook cannot give you manhood, or as he says, “We are not feathers of the same bird, but two different feathers.”

And if a man asks a girl for a kiss, irrespective of her retraction, he is shocked by her reflexive slap, infuriating him because a man can never take “no” for his manhood. It also stands in the way of a sexually informed and educated person, especially a woman, and that she uses this informed tone to question a man’s deed.

When Baby defended the foreigner guest, her brother-in-law could not stand her in the first place talking against him, and secondly using that “sexually educated person’s” way of talking. Weird, isn’t it? Moreover, Shammi’s manhood failed to respect the sexual choice of the foreigner, where she wished to spend the night with a local company, as a hint to spoiling their culture. It does question the culture we represent because perhaps manhood teaches us to breach someone else’s privacy too.

Kumbalangi Nights
Still from the movie.

Contrarily, a woman finds womanhood in preserving herself for one and keeping the courtship as a promise for marriage, portraying a shy, timid, coward personality and just following her husband wherever he asks or goes. That is still the reality. She is expected to speak up about every secret to protect their relationship, without having her own decisions involved in this or anything for that matter. 

Interestingly, females are the ones who propagate this narrative of job stability, borne out of a patriarchal notion, before considering it as a marriage proposal. I would recommend my readers start it from one’s own family and give it a reality check.

While everything about financial stability and compatibility becomes important, nobody questions the previous records on one’s mental health individually or in the family. Hardly the wife in the movie knew of the behavioural change that her husband divulges into, a very random change of events. He was expected to shout, misbehave or speak at the least, but with that weird smile on his face and moustache in place, he tried to symbolise a behavioural disorder. 

She calls his friend and asks what this behaviour is and then she is informed of his history of having fits and that he would be “fine” — at the stake of three women’s lives probably. Now would you not agree that this is even worse than having financial instability or emotional incompatibilities?

I would want all my readers to watch this movie which senses the new ways of life emerging in our society, but still the old, classic and more illogical ways standing in the way of not letting it progress. And also, share with those you feel are quite adamant and unsettling about their manhood/womanhood.

You must be to comment.

More from Lochan Sharma

Similar Posts

By Maria Khanam

By Shirley Khurana

By Cross-Culture studies

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below