'Mangalyam Thanthunanena' review: An empty comedy full of cliches

Even as it comes from an award-winning woman director, 'Mangalyam Thanthunanena', is on the stereotypical dead theme of a husband cribbing about a marriage because he is supposed to.
'Mangalyam Thanthunanena' review: An empty comedy full of cliches
'Mangalyam Thanthunanena' review: An empty comedy full of cliches
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That the movie began with a wedding and a song is no surprise. The title is Mangalyam Thanthunanena, a wedding song from another movie that too began with a wedding – Bangalore Days.

The surprise comes a few moments into that song, when the hero Roy – Kunchacko Boban – puts the wedding ring on the bride Clara – Nimisha Sajayan – and stops to look at Jesus Christ carrying a cross. Music is played. Symbolism, apparently – a marriage is a cross you carry. And for the audience, a warning, of what is to come.

You hope then that it will not be the stereotypical dead theme of a husband hating everything about a marriage and cribbing to his friends about the woes of having a wife. You hope so, especially, when it is coming from a woman director – from Soumya Sadanandan who made the wonderful documentary Chembai, that won her the National Award.

But then, Roy is exactly that man who simply seems to find reasons to hate a marriage because that’s what men are supposed to do. Hate marriage and be happy when the wife goes home for a week. What peace, Roy says, lying down on his bed, ‘only me’.

It is not even a cliché, it is an empty theme. Here is a man who is neck-deep in debts, and picks fights with his wife every day, asking her to pawn her jewellery. He has just lost his job in Dubai and come back home to Kerala, mom (Shanthi Krishna) and the new wife.

You don’t understand this man. Every day, Roy goes to sit on a bridge with his friend Shamsu (Hareesh Kanaran). He doesn’t try to get a job or do anything to solve his financial problems. But he cribs all along, till Shamsu finds a new idea to deal with the issue that lands them in trouble. Attempts at comedy are just sad, and often at the expense of taking a dig at Clara. The typical ‘aah she won’t give you peace here also’ lines, to which, there is unsurprisingly a few in the audience that laugh.

The story could have been set 40 years ago, the way the music turns sad when Roy is asked to wash the dishes by his tired mother one day. You try to look for some deeper meaning, because, really it can’t be because the man of the house has to do this ‘menial task’.

You don’t find novelty even in the mother’s character, she who watches TV all day and seems unaware of Roy’s problems with the wife. In fact the wife too doesn’t seem aware or worried that there’s anything going on. Even after learning about his debts, they seem to forget it a day later and go on happily. Only you, as the audience, seem to know there is no love, Roy is just spending his days aimlessly. Not that you are moved by the knowledge.

Alencier plays the totally unnecessary character of an uncle who tells Roy that the solution to getting what he wants from his wife (namely, her gold) is to love her. An advice Roy tries to follow reluctantly and fails.

Clara, on the other hand, is totally in love with Roy, missing him on a day she stays away and calling him to say so, while Roy looks at the phone, annoyed. Nothing unusual in feeling loveless towards a wife.

In fact, he is pretty unfeeling towards most things except money. Even when his beloved dad’s old friend shows up, Roy looks irritated till the friend hands him a bundle of notes and then he lights up.

There are more unfitting characters – Leona Lishoy as a bank manager, a goon with a revenge for Roy, an extended family whose wedding anniversary celebrations bore you to death and make you wonder how any of this is relevant. The execution at these points is pathetic. The scriptwriter seems to have dozed off while he created the characters and forgotten why they were there when he woke up.

When the script is so weak, even good actors like Nimisha can’t really help it. Her character is simply one that you can easily forget. Kunchacko might have tried his best but Roy is written too half-heartedly, and there is nothing much that he could have done.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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