Take Off (2017) by Mahesh Narayanan

A portrait of an impressive woman based on a real story


With a script based on the on the ordeal of Indian nurses in the city of Tikrit, Iraq in 2014, Mahesh Narayanan, in his feature debut, uses the events to present the portrait of a woman, in a cinematic process that netted Parvathy Thiruvoth (the protagonist) the Best Female Actor at the 48th International Film Festival of India, becoming the first ever Indian film actor to win the award.


Sameera is a quick-tempered and determined nurse in Kerala, who is set on moving to Iraq, where the wages are much higher. Her family, however, disapproves, and eventually, she and her husband, Faizal, get divorced, with the custody of their only child, Ibrahim, staying with his father. At that time, a colleague, Shaheed, who knows of her problems and seems to have had a crush on her for quite some time, suggests for the two of them to get married. She agrees, kind of reluctantly, and they finally manage to move to Tikrit in 2014, while Sameera is pregnant. Eventually, her son joins them but has a hard time to get used to the fact that his mother is now married to Shaheed, with the latter deciding to move to Mosul with the army medical team, in order to give the two some space. Soon after, though, Mosul falls in the hands of ISIS, as their army takes over Iraq. Both Shaheed and Sameera soon find themselves at the mercy of the ISIS army.

Mahesh Narayan directs a film that unfolds in two very different parts, one in Kerala and one in Tikrit, with the second being the largest one. The two parts differ both in context and aesthetics, since the former deals with the status of women in Malayalam society while the second with the atrocities of the ISIS army. In that fashion, the first part features a relatively slow pace while Sanu John Vargese's cinematography aims at presenting the situation in the hospital and the various places Sameera visits as realistically as possible, in art-house fashion, with very few "outbreaks." In the second part though, Narayan (who was an editor before becoming a filmmaker) and Abhilash Balachandran's editing makes the pace much faster, as the movie turns into an agonizing thriller, while the cinematography aims at portraying the grotesque situation in the ISIS-infested areas with brutal realism. This realism is also stressed by the actual footage of the events in the end of the film, and by the fact that Narayan kept the parts where the nurses admit that ISIS soldiers did not mishandle them in any way.


I have to admit though, that the transition between the two parts is not so smooth, to the point that the film seems somewhat disconnected, since the two parts differ significantly, as if two different movies came together, instead of a compact one. On a secondary level, and this may well be just a misconception of mine, I felt that the film implies that Sameera's decision to leave her husband and son behind is the reason for what happens to her in Iraq, although the ending definitely "compensates" for this sense.

Narayanan keeps Sameera at the epicenter of the production at all times, highlighting the different situations she experiences and the toll they have on her psychological status. In that fashion, we witness her being frustrated, sad, confused, filled with agony, scared to death, but always determined and with a resolve that eventually proves her biggest weapon. Parvathy Thiruvoth manages to portray all of the aforementioned with artistry and competence, anchoring the film in impressive fashion. Kunchacko Boban as Shaheed is also quite good in the portrayal of a man who is willing to go to extremes for the woman he loves, in a combination of kindness, understanding, but equal resolve with Sameera's. 


"Take Off" has some faults, but overall, is a film of quality that manages to portray its story with precision and artistry, while Parvathy's impressive performance takes care of the entertainment aspect.


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Team,1,Sha Po Lang,1,Shake Rattle and Roll,1,Shakti Sounder Rajan,1,Shanjhey Kumar Perumal,1,Shanker Raman,1,Shaw Brothers,2,She Remembers He Forgets,2,She's the Boss,1,Shehjar,1,Shiboprosad Mukherjee,1,Shift,2,Shigeru Umebayashi,1,Shikhar Verma,13,Shikhar Verna,3,Shim Sung-Bo,1,Shinichi Fukazawa,1,Shinji Somai,2,Shinji Sômai,1,Shinjuku Swan,1,shinjuku Swan II,1,Shinjuku Triad Society,1,Shinobi no Kuni,2,Shinsuke Ogawa,1,Shinsuke Sato,2,Shinya Tsukamoto,4,Shireen Seno,2,Shirley Abraham,1,Shock Wave,1,Shôhei Imamura,1,Shoot for the Contents,1,Shorts,7,Shotaro Kobayashi,1,Shu Qi,1,Shuna Iijima,1,Shunji Iwai,2,Shutter,1,Shuttle Life,2,Shyam Ramsay,1,Siddiq Ahamed,1,Sidharth Bharathan,1,Sidi Saleh,1,Signature,1,Silent Mist,1,Silver Spleen,2,Singapore,3,Singh Anand,1,Singing Chen,1,Sinophone,1,Sion Sono,10,Siti,1,Sixth Sense Hooker,1,Slavemen,1,Sleep Curse,1,Small Talk,2,Smriti Mundhra,1,Sogo Ishii,2,Soichi Umezawa,1,Solanin,1,Solitude,1,Solo,1,Someone To Talk To,1,Sompot Chidgasompongse,2,Song Hae-sung,1,Song Kang-ho,1,Song of the Week,22,Sopawan Boonnimitra,1,Sopon Sakdapisit,1,Soul,1,Soul Mate,1,SoulMate,2,South Korea,21,Sri Lanka,3,Sridevi,1,Srijit Mukherji,7,Stammering Ballad,1,Stanley Kwan,1,Stanley Tong,1,Steel Rain,1,Stephen Chow,1,Stephen Fung,2,Steve James,1,Still the Water,1,Stoneman Murders,1,Story in Taipei,1,Strange Circus,1,Studio Ghibli,1,StudioCanal,4,Subenja Pongkorn,2,Suffering of Ninko,2,Sugihara Survivors: Jewish and Japanese,1,Suicide Club,1,Suman Mukhopadhay,1,Summer Snow,1,Sun-ho Cho,1,Sunao Katabuchi,3,Sunday Beauty Queen,1,Sung-hong Kim,1,Sunk Into the Womb,1,Susumu Hirasawa,1,Sweating the Small Stuff,2,Tadashi Nagayama,1,Tae Guk Gi,1,Tag,1,Taiwan,28,Takaaki Hashiguchi,1,Takahide Hori,1,Takahiro Miko,1,Takahisa Zeze,1,Takao Nakano,1,Takaomi Ogata,4,Takashi Miike,10,Take Care of My Cat,1,Take Me to the Moon,1,Take Off,1,Takeo Kikuchi,2,Takeshi Kaneshiro,1,Takeshi Kitano,1,Takuro Nakamura,2,Talop Wangchuk,1,Tamil,4,Tamura Senichi,1,Tang Seng Kiat,2,Tanit Jitnukul,1,Tanvir Ashraf,2,Taste of Rice Flower,2,Tatara Samurai,1,Tatsuhi Omori,1,Tatsumi,1,Tatsumi Kumashiro,1,Teddy Soeriaatmadja,1,Teenkahon,1,Teppei Nakamura,1,Tetsuo the Iron Man,1,Tetsuya Mariko,1,Tetsuya Nakashima,1,Thailand,21,Thanatos Drunk,1,That's It,1,The Adventurers,2,The Apology,1,The Bad,1,The Blue Redemption,1,The Boy and the Beast,3,The boy from Ipanema,1,The Brink,1,The Chase,1,The Cinema Travellers,1,The Crawler in the Attic,1,The Crazy Family,1,The Day After,1,The Detective,1,The Discloser,1,The Dollhouse,1,The elephant and the sea,2,The Executioner,1,The Eye's Dream,1,The Forest Whispers,1,The Forsaken Land,1,The Fortress,1,The Gangster's Daughter,1,The Girl Who Never Knew War,1,The Golden Fortress,1,The Good,1,The Great Buddha+,1,The Great Passage,1,The Hole,1,The Hungry Lion,1,The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles,2,The Inugami Family,1,The Iron Ministry,1,The Island That All Flow By,1,The Isthmus,1,The Kid from the Big Apple,1,The King of Pigs,1,The Last Executioner,1,The Last Painting,1,The Long Excuse,1,The Looming Storm,1,The Lowlife,1,The Magic Blade,1,The Man Without a Map,1,The Mayor,1,The Merciless,2,The Mermaid,1,The Muse,1,The Naked Island,1,The Name,1,The Net,1,The Night of the Earthquake,1,The Outlaws,1,The Prison,1,The Promise,1,The Raid,1,The Raid 2,1,The recipe,1,The Road Home,1,The Road to Mandalay,1,the Robber's Daughter,1,The Room,1,The Sacrament,1,The Salesman,1,The Seen and Unseen,1,The Shoot Must Go On,1,The Sleep Curse,1,The Sower,2,The Story of the Disappearance of Maryam,1,The Strange Saga of Hiroshi the Freeloading Sex Machine,1,The Swindlers,1,The Table,1,The Third Murder,1,The Thousand Faces of Dunjia,1,The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale,1,The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue,1,The Tooth and the Nail,1,The Truth Beneath,1,The Vanished,1,The Villainess,3,The Violin Player,1,The Way We Are,1,The Weird,1,The Windmill Palm Grove,1,Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru,1,Third WIndow,1,This Is Not What I Expected,1,This Is Not What I Expected!,1,Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum,1,Thop Nazareno,1,Three Sisters,1,Three Times,1,Tiffany Hsiung,1,Tik Tik Tik,1,Tôkaidô Yotsuya kaidan,1,Tokyo Ghoul,1,Tokyo Heaven,1,Tokyo Idols,1,Tokyo Vampire Hotel,1,Tolerance Film Festival,1,Tom Waller,2,Tony Leung,1,Tony Takitani,1,Torico,2,Toronto International Film Festival,1,Toshiaki Toyoda,2,Toshihisa Yokoshima,3,Toshimasha Kobayashi,1,Toshio Matsumoto,1,Toshiya Fujita,1,Town in a Lake,1,Traces of Sin,1,Trailers,84,Train to Busan,1,Tran Ham,1,Translated articles,1,Trapped,1,Travellers and Magicians,1,Treb Monteras II,2,Trinh T. 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Asian Film Vault: Take Off (2017) by Mahesh Narayanan
Take Off (2017) by Mahesh Narayanan
A portrait of an impressive woman based on a real story
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Asian Film Vault
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