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Why the rural barbershop gives filmmakers ample scope for mis-en-scene

Being centres of public assembly, more often in rural contexts, haircutting saloons have always featured in quintessential montages that depict the spreading of news

Ranjita Ganesan

An important sequence in Madhu C Narayanan’s Kumbalangi Nights, the 2019 film that freshly awakened people to Malayalam cinema’s sublime thrills, plays out in a barbershop. The protagonist Bobby (Shane Nigam) drags his elder brother Saji to meet the barber Shammy (Fahadh Faasil), who is his girlfriend Baby's brother-in-law. Shammy is the type of manly man who is obsessed with the anatomy of his moustache, while Saji has to be reminded to run a comb through his hair. Inside the shop, where everything is an intimidating shade of red, Saji ends up asking for Bobby to be ...