There are some movies that are so ahead of its times- like the movie I discuss today, Summer in Bethlehem.
This is the movie about two Sangh friends trying to get a girl, but facing hurdles because of their ideology. One of the protagonists is a frigging rich orphan, Dennis, the only heir of a British company, raised in some convent. As he adults, he realizes his life’s purpose and starts an NGO in Ooty to save cows. A toast to his convent past, and as a secular mask to protect him from liberals, he names it Bethlehem. How convenient!
His friend, Ravishanker, lives off him quite unapologetically. Ravishanker, as it needs to be specified at this point, is a compulsive liar, is shit deep in debt, and has no plans about his future.
As two upper middle class pricks, they physically and mentally torture their servant boy, Monaayi.
In the hills of Ooty, they run their NGO, saving and serving cows.
Neither human rights nor animal rights(cow is our mother, not an animal)are heeded to in this movie.
When the movie begins, we find a woman extrapolating Erwin Schrodinger’s quantum mechanics experiment. She puts a barely one month old kitten in a box, and couriers it! But, unlike Schrodinger, she is very thoughtful to put some holes for it to breathe. I mean, who needs food when you have air, bro!
Now why she couriers a kitten is the central plot line. Friends, let me introduce you to the ultimate booty call of the century. She is trying to make her intentions clear as she is visiting her cousin Ravishanker in summer, without specifying who she is. Well, good luck with that, gal!
The kitty, fighting against all odds, reaches the den of Dennis and Co.
They are obviously disturbed by the girl’s audacity to be sexually liberal, nevertheless getting ready to welcome Ravishanker’s family for summer.
Now, Ravishanker’s family has an abundance of XX chromosomes as all of his cousins are girls of various ages. The fact that they are alive sort of makes me think Ravishanker is a recent Sangh convert.
Anyhow, the cousins and their grandparents have arrived at what is claimed to be Ravi’s Farmhouse. Soon after they arrive, Ravi and Dennis are moved to the Outhouse because they can’t keep it in their pants. I am not surprised, really.
They are eagerly waiting for Abhirami a.k.a Aami, who would join them after a college trip. There is so much hype in the air about how the vacation is going to be after Aami comes. Aami comes, frustrated that she has to spend an entire summer vacation with her family and Sangh cousin. Well, I understand you, sis.
Aami exhibits symptoms of depression and others around notice that she is gloomy. But the grandparents’ solution to her sadness is, “freshen up and you will be alright”. Because soap cleanses not only body, but also mind. 🙄
Aami fakes happiness and everyone is happy. Everyone feels they are on a vacay, dilly-dallying in the hills of Ooty.
Aami overhears the master plan of the grand parents to get Ravishanker to marry one of his cousins so that grand father can transfer the right to all his properties to Ravi.
But she is forced to spill the secret to Dennis as he spies on the girls and catches Aami smoking a cigarette and sipping wine with the girls.
When Ravishanker hears the master plan, he is thrilled. But, Dennis reminds him that Ravi has to find the girl who sent him the kitten. Ouch!
In the meantime, Dennis and Aami befriend each other. Unfortunately, she tells him that she likes him, and stresses on “as a friend”. But, come on, we know how mallu male brains work, especially when there is someone to add fuel to fire.
Dennis starts weaving dreams about Aami.
Ravishanker, who exhibits no sense of logic so far, sets on his mission to find the girl he wants to marry, by meditating.
And his idea of meditation is basically having a wet dream about all his cousins, together!
Without even asking her, Ravi decides that he wants to marry Aami because she is not ambitious like other girls, but simple and down to earth. Dude, do you even know her!
He goes ahead to let his and her parents know of his decision, asking Dennis to talk to Aami about this. Lol.
Aami reacts furiously and asks them why they haven’t sought her consent and declares that she and Dennis are in love and plan to get married. Good job girl, but say hello to patriarchy.
Funnily enough, Ravishanker now has a change in character, and advises the family on women’s rights. Bro, where was this two mins ago?
Dennis is in cloud nine, but now comes the twist. Aami says she doesn’t want to get married to Dennis.
She says she is in a complicated relationship with a naxalite, Niranjan, the founder of ‘Red War’, who talks of stuff she doesn’t understand like ‘revolution’ and ‘class war’, and who conspired to murder Brijesh Mallya, the industrialist, but killed his wives and children too in the process.
(Totally impressed by the writer’s word play)
Niranjan will be hung to death soon, and Aami plans to take her life when that happens. Because contesting the capital punishment legally is not heroic enough.
Dennis is shattered but agrees to play along the fake marriage that Aami plans, because he is afraid that Aami will commit suicide if he doesn’t agree. Clearly, no one in the movie has any idea about mental health.
On the eve of their marriage, Aami finds out a way to meet Niranjan and drags Dennis to the prison. At the prison, she wants Niranjan to tie a thali around her neck.
Niranjan, who is smoking some deep shit in the prison, gives them a loooong lecture on life’s purpose, soul, and death. At the end of it, he asks Dennis to tie the thaali, because he wants to die as a bachelor.
Dennis who is finally getting a chance to move out of the friendzone, ties the thali, despite Aami’s defense.
As the movie ends, everyone is happy and are expecting Aami and Dennis to have a baby in the next summer. Nobody seems to worry that the dude married her without her consent. Or that she could be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, after everything that happened.