The actors – four of the ‘Premam’ guys included – do their parts well but the humour appears forced.

Mariyam Vannu Vilakkoothi review Sincere attempt at comedy but offers few laughs
Flix Review Saturday, February 01, 2020 - 11:31
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With bookshelves carved neatly in the walls, yellow lights at short distances apart, unobtrusive wooden furniture and four curious-looking doors, the house that five young men go to in Mariyam Vannu Vilakkoothi is a charming little place to live in. No wonder the five men never feel like leaving it after they enter it one evening, creating the crux of the film. It’s all meant for laughs, from the very first scene when these men were schoolboys and predictably troublesome, to the end when they finally get out of the house and end up in a police station. That’s not the exact end of course, and without giving away spoilers, let’s just say that a lot of the well-intended comedy fails.

The attempt is very sincere, from creating a unique little situation (actually, not so unique, if you look outside of Malayalam cinema and into a certain series starring Bradley Cooper and three other men), to adding unusual sounds, animation, storytelling methods. But the writing brings on screen some poor dialogues, boring sequences and tepid comedy. It gets a little better in the second half though, and you think perhaps the writer and director – Jenith Kachappilly – has learnt the craft on the go. He should have made his second half his first and then written an entirely new second half.

The cast is nearly a replica of Premam, with four of the characters who played pals to Nivin Pauly, playing friends again. You wouldn’t be surprised if from one of the four doors, Nivin Pauly suddenly walked in (he doesn’t). So there is Krishna Shankar, Shabareesh Varma and Siju Wilson, who played Nivin’s friends, and Althaf Salim, who's a geeky classmate. They have almost reprised their roles from the previous film. Althaf is again the geeky one – with an annoying stress on his caste – the good “Namboodiri” who has no vices. The other three are rogue ones, Krishna Shankar being the roguest of the lot, the bad influence. There’s an outside-of-Premam guy – advocate MA Shiyas turning an actor. And a good one at that, as the man carrying on a phone-relationship with his fiancée.

There is also an old woman in the house, the owner, played by Sethu Lakshmi, who walks around wearing a dress and an ill fitting wig of bobbed hair. In a way, the film is nearly like a comic book, the five grown men afraid of the strict old woman, a former headmistress with a handy walking stick. There are chapters dividing the film too, and animated birds tittering around. Pradeep Kottayam, playing Sethu Lakshmi’s dead husband, becomes the face of every new chapter. You’d think children might enjoy it with all the cartoonish features, but no, the subject is centered around a pretty heavy theme, of what happens in an evening when everyone gets high. Yep, it's The Hangover series all over again (in case you didn’t guess earlier), but the men here are not walking around a strange city losing their teeth, they are in the comforts of their house, still doing damage.

Jenith, unable to stay away from all the action, becomes the voice of the narrator. Siddharth Siva and Baiju play their short roles effortlessly well. All the actors in fact do their parts with a certain ease that comes from perhaps being in comfortable circles, or simply from experience. If only the comedy had worked and the writing didn’t make the lines sound like forced humour, Mariyam Vannu Vilakkoothi could have heralded a new kind of comedy in Malayalam cinema. 

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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