Vivek follows Athiran with The Teacher, and one of the nicest bits of the film takes place in a bus. Sujith (Hakkim Shajahan) is on a call to his wife, Devika (Amala Paul). He has made a mistake, a big mistake. He is apologising.  And while this call is taking place, the woman in the next seat keeps looking at him. After Sujith hangs up, she tells him that she has been married a long time and never once has her husband said sorry to her. She's happy that at least this young generation of men has changed. If only she knew. The scene plays like the woman's story but it's actually Sujith's character that's revealed. He isn't really the man that this woman thinks he is. Well, he could have been that man if all things had gone his way. But it's how we handle the unexpected that makes us show our true colours. And Sujith's true colours aren't pretty.

Sujith loves Devika. He hasn't hit her or abused her. The only blip in their marriage is that they don't have a child. And when Sujith discovers Devika is pregnant, his reaction is beautiful. Hakkim makes us see the happiness and also the relief – he makes us feel every bit of a man who wants a child not just because he genuinely wants a child but because his patriarchal mindset can finally rest in peace that he has finally done what a Real Man is supposed to do. And it's this pregnancy that becomes the root of all that goes wrong subsequently. A rock-solid Amala Paul shows us the grit in a woman who faces difficult choices – but both she and Hakkim are let down by the writing that makes their unexpected journey fairly predictable. I wondered how the film would have turned out had the screenplay revealed the reason for Devika's unhappiness after a while, after she and Sujith celebrate the pregnancy. What if the Big Reveal had happened as… a Big Reveal to both Devika and the audience at a later point?

The Teacher is one of those films whose name assumes several meanings. Devika is a sports teacher. She teaches students and she also teaches some young boys a big lesson. Hakkim's mother (Manju Pillai) teaches him a thing or two about being a good husband, a good man. There’s a martial arts teacher. But the film’s layers are very obviously set out, and certain subplots - like the one involving a sexually abused girl - are written with zero subtlely. The way Devika discovers a crucial truth about the reason for her lack of joy about her pregnancy – that’s a great scene. But the other characters are so one-note that we know instantly what their function in this narrative is. Prashanth Murali plays Sujith's best friend, and his character is one of the most predictable. What's not predictable is the ending – but it comes out of the blue and it feels false, unlike a similar scene in Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey, where things were gradually built up to that point.

The point is not whether characters like the one played by Prashanth Murali or Manju Pillai exist. Of course they do. But on film, we want some three-dimensionality and not just one trait that defines this person or that one: Sexist Man, or Strong Woman, and so on. A scene with a gynaecologist feels like it has been put in just to feed the audience and Hakkim some information. Other scenes - like the one where Hakkim goes looking for cigarettes and finds something else, or even Devika’s sudden and instant transformation – seem very conveniently written. There's very little finesse. Given the pulpy way The Teacher reaches its end, there's a nice little B-movie to be made from this material. But Vivek wants to make serious points, and they just don't land. The people are unconvincing, and so is the film.