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Penguin a directorial debut by Eashvar Karthik is an expectant mother’s hapless journey of finding her son and also protecting other children in the vicinity from unknown predators.
Keerthy Suresh’s portrayal of Rhythm as the protagonist who is on an extremely adventurous yet danger laced quest of looking for her lost son is angst that resonates with every mother!
A failed first marriage that’s primarily because “she failed to keep her child safe” (as alleged by her first husband)is a nightmare that haunts her every moment.
The film opens to picturesque Kodaikanal but this beauty is soon marred by the presence of an unidentifiable predator who is on a prowl to abduct toddlers. The dark perpetrator not only abducts the toddlers but is also shown to mete out unimaginable physical torture and psychological trauma to them.
Penguin released in Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam on Prime Amazon begins on a high note but fails to keep up the tempo in the second half wherein it ends up being another story of revenge. As aptly pointed out by The Times Of India, the movie is about “some chills and many cheats”!
However, what is appealing is the theme behind the entire storyline; a mother’s relentless efforts to save her children from any harm even if she ends up being battered! Rhythm’s narration of the story to her toddler that’s centred around mother Penguin ( that’s where the title of the film can be attributed to) protecting her nestlings with all her might can easily be likened to her attempt to protect Ajay, the toddler and her unborn.
Irrespective of a weak storyline, Penguin will have its fan base, the reason being, its about a mother-child bond. Who wouldn’t want a theme like that? It’s the journey of a parent who can go to any vicious end to save her child.
Keerthy Suresh’s Rhythm is someone for whom the distance that separates her from her son is dangerous but not impossible to reduce; she defies all odds in her relentless search for her child. When ridiculed for the dangerous pursuits she replies, “I am pregnant, and not brain-damaged”! This shows her emotional fortitude. She doesn’t let anything or anyone deter her conviction and this eventually coerces others to believe that her son isn’t dead which unfortunately the world was made to believe.
A woman lays the foundation of her journey towards motherhood the moment she is aware of a new life breathing within her. She starts believing in miracles like before, she starts praying like she’s prayed never ever, she starts valuing every second of life.
Rhythm the expectant mother played by the protagonist in the film is undeterred to face hell to find her lost child and the unborn just like the metaphoric Mama Penguin in her fables that she often narrated to Ajay before he was abducted. The presence of the metaphoric seabird keeps resonating just like Rhythm’s fable.
The soul-crushing melancholy of a mother losing her son looms large throughout the film. This is aggravated when in her pursuit to locate her lost son, Rhythm unravels another shocking truth, abduction of toddlers for organ trafficking, which is the subplot of the film.
What makes Penguin tug at our heart is Rhythm’s aka Keerthy Suresh’s unflinching courage even when she’s encountered with her worst fears-insects which apparently symbolizes death! However, in the end, her worst fear becomes her eventual redemption in finding her lost son. Her stoicism that oscillates between a groundless hope and an earnest urge to cry is something that any parent would feel seeing their children under insecure circumstances.
Rhythm’s fear, anxiety, despair and disbelief is so real. Which mother wouldn’t identify with her angst?
Irrespective of the gross psychopathy that involves children, which most of the time disgusts you to the core, (though we can’t deny such gruesome crimes are rampant against children) Penguin is the story of a mother and Rhythm personifies that!
Finally when Rhythm wins against the atrocities and has both her unborn and the firstborn safe the quote “…behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin” by Mitch Albom succeeds in reiterating the indispensability of all mothers!
Picture Credits – Still from movie Penguin (2020)
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