Malayalam cinema never stops at delivering hard-hitting stories. Be it a commercial or a film for a niche audience, there is always an element of reality attached to it. Realism is something Malayalam cinema cannot separate itself from. The more movies you watch from Kerala, the more you will realize this is what even the audiences want. Real stories with relatable characters, real situations, and real conversations. “The Teacher” is one such Malayalam language film that talks about sexual assault, consent, power struggles, and a woman’s right in society. Devika’s journey through all of this is covered by the director Vivek, who takes us through the dark alleys of general mindsets that always expect women to be the ones to adapt, reshape, and move on. Released on December 2nd, 2022, the film stars Amala Paul, Maala Parvathi, Manju Pillai, Hakkim Shah, and Chemban Vinod Jose.
‘The Teacher’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
The film begins with Devika waking up in the morning in a weird mood as if she is not aware of where she is or how she reached home. She has a brief conversation with her husband, who works as a nurse at a local hospital. Devika feels some pain, but she is unable to see any visible marks of injury on any part of her body. She is still suspicious and worried that something has happened to her, but she is unable to recall the incidents, especially those of the previous night. Devika is a physical education teacher at a local school in the Kollam district and worked hard for the upcoming district meet, where athletes from her school participated and got selected to represent the state. Devika, since the very next day of the meet, feels she has a blackout of what happened the previous night and pushes herself to remember what happened and where it happened. Devika knows something wrong has happened to her, but because of the pain, she is unable to recall any memory. Devika heads to school, where she is asked by a fellow teacher from the same school why she is on the premises. Devika was the showrunner of the district athletic meet-up, and her colleague requested that she take a week’s break from all the hard work she put in to make this meet a success. Devika, meanwhile, has something else going on in her head and is keen on retracing her steps from the previous night. As she heads to the badminton court, she finds her gold earrings, and her suspicions start painting a picture of what transpired here.
Meanwhile, her husband Sujith comes across a child rape victim whose family is being forced by the police to withdraw their FIR against the accused. The police say the court case and investigation will ruin the reputation of the kid and the family. The family, out of fear, withdraws the case, and Sujith is a witness to this conversation. Sujith’s friend and fellow nurse, Kevin, is a misogynistic man who believes men should have control over their wives and not let them step out of the house. He keeps advising Sujith to bring Devika under his control and not let her work, for staying at home will make sure she is guarded and under his scrutiny. Sujith hears all this conversation and he doesn’t to what his friend says. Sujith does not come across as someone who would believe in what Kevin believes in. Sujith and Devika have had a stress-free marriage, and the only thing missing from their lives is a child. Both are keen on becoming parents and take pains to find out why they can’t conceive. They head to Sujith’s hometown, which is an island where Sujith’s mother, Kalyani, is a local social activist known for standing up for the needy and the downtrodden. She runs a small-scale coir production unit. Devika and her mother-in-law are on good terms. Kalyani is not a typical in-law who would try to inflict suffering on her daughter-in-law. Kalyani is a politically connected leader who has seen all her life dedicated to the service of her people. Devika starts digging around for more information about the boys who she thinks assaulted her, but at this point, the director has not revealed what exactly happened to her or who did what to cause Devika to be worried sick about her safety.
‘The Teacher’ Ending Explained: How Does Devika Track Down Her Attackers?
Devika figures she is pregnant and knows the child is not Sujith’s. She asks her colleague to help her locate the boys who sexually assaulted her. Her colleague is wary of what Devika is up to but refuses to abandon her. Devika starts searching online to see if any videos have been leaked, but thankfully there aren’t any so far. Devika is petrified at this point, for she and her husband have been trying to concierge for a long time. Devika has also thought about not revealing her pregnancy to her husband until she finds out more about the boys responsible for it. She starts her hunt and starts spooking them by showing up at places they didn’t expect to see her. Devika informs her husband she is headed to her mother’s place, but she goes to one of the perpetrator’s homes and shocks him by being calm and nonchalant. She speaks rather normally with the boy, who is in the middle of his brother’s wedding arrangements. Devika does not confront the boy but makes him feel as if she is unaware of what happened to her and she has no memory of what happened to her. Devika is sly about her approach and does not make a scene to attract anyone’s attention. Her only goal was to spook the guy, and in response to that, he would contact his friends responsible for assaulting her. Devika knew the boy would act calmly in front of her, but he behaved exactly the way she expected him to. Devika discreetly records his conversation with his friends. She hears the recording, only to realize the boys did not delete any of the videos of the assault. The conversation they have with each other is disturbing, for they believe they can get away with publishing such videos online, something that will not affect them but only the woman featured in them. Devika has a meltdown and reveals everything to her sister, including her pregnancy.
Sujith, meanwhile, is unaware of why his wife is staying away from him, and in that process, he discovers she is pregnant. Expecting the kid to be his, he speaks to her gynecologist, who informs Sujith that she wants to abort the child. Sujith is confused about why Devika would take a step like this. Sujith has always wanted a child, which Devika was aware of. Her wanting to abort the child puts him on the back foot, and he decides to talk to her about the situation at hand. Devika returns from her hometown and describes the ordeal she went through because of the students from a rival school. Devika explains that they fed her drug-laced candy, because of which she passed out. The boys from the rival school had issues with her because she complained against them for harassing schoolgirls. The boys take revenge by drugging her and raping her, which they recorded a video of. Sujith reacts rather violently and blames her for the incident. Sujith is not ready to believe his wife, and he confides in his colleague at work. Sujith also discourages Devika from filing a police complaint, which further alienates Devika from her husband. She expected him to support her in her trying times, but he refuses to understand the state of mind she is in. Kevin stresses on the fact that Sujith should not let Devika work, and blames her for the rape that happened to her. Kevin’s uncharacteristic behavior toward Devika forces her to throw him out of the house. Sujith’s mother, Kalyani, though, gives her all the support she needs and advises her to locate the boys and do what she thinks is right for herself. Sujith is also informed of the fact that Devika is in hospital for a procedure and he is asked not to come and meet her. Sujith starts feeling slightly guilty but does nothing more to support. Devika moves to Cochin without informing her husband. Devika realizes this is her fight, and she shouldn’t expect anyone else to fight her battles, including her husband. She realized she would rather do this on her own than receive no support from her husband who was being so ultra-conservative about the entire matter. Kalyani says she asked Devika to seek what she is looking for: revenge.
On reaching Cochin, Devika meets the key perpetrator and spooks him the way she spooked the other guy. She gets the help of a local man through the contact given to her by Kalyani. He starts helping her by tracing them, who have been nothing but a bunch of shady boys who think they can get away with raping a woman. Devika has no reason to believe the man helping her, but he convinces her that he has been doing a lot of similar work for Kalyani. Kalyani is a renowned figure and makes sure her daughter-in-law gets the best help to locate these boys. Devika is sure of what she wants, and she is glad to have received Kalyani’s assistant’s help to tackle the issue. Sujith contacts her with the hope of reconciling with her. He apologizes, too, in the process, but Devika is not ready to hear him. She is looking forward to dealing with the boy head-on. Devika finally gets the main perpetrator to meet her at a shady lodge. On reaching there, she is slapped hard by the boy, and the rest of the boys confront her. Devika is again terrified of what these boys might do again. The boys do nothing in the beginning. They delete the video in front of her and break the memory card, handing it over to her. Devika finally reveals she is skilled at using nunchucks and starts beating the boys black and blue. Kalyani’s aide helps her injure the boys. Devika beats them to prove a point, which is that getting attacked or attacking anyone unprovoked is the most violent and illegal activity out there. Devika wanted to punish them for what they put her through, and the terror of her video being leaked made her lose her sanity. The boys are arrested, and Devika goes back to her life as a teacher. Sujith apologizes profusely for behaving the way he did, but she refuses to go back to him, realizing if he was not there for her in her difficult times, he probably does not deserve to be in her life at all. Devika finally reveals that she did not abort her child.
“The Teacher” is a classic case of “Varathan” an Amal Neerad film, where the build-up to the actual incidents and situations was fantastic, but it was ruined by the climax and the final showdown. The reveal about Devika being a karate professional felt more comedic than dramatic for the film until then was tense. How she became a karate professional and from whom she learned is completely irrelevant to the plot. The build-up made in the screenplay is excellent until the end, which is a big letdown. This is the case when a man writes a female character. As a viewer, there was no closure to her ordeal. Beating up the kids cannot be her end goal in seeking justice for the crime they committed. “The Teacher” could have been so much better if the climax had been tightly written and executed. Watch this film only for the solid build-up made by the writer-director Vivek.
“The Teacher” is now streaming on Netflix with subtitles.