The film flew below the radar when it released in theatres but it's a delightful comedy that deserves a watch.

Now on Amazon Prime Malayalam comedy Janamaithri shouldnt be missed
Flix Mollywood Saturday, August 31, 2019 - 18:32

The pain, the anxiety, the frustration are all so real on Samyukthan's (Saiju Kurup) face that you wish he’d soon find the door he has been looking for so desperately. The door to a toilet being sought in the company of a policeman called Ashraf (Sabumon).

This little sequence in the recently released Janamaithri works because of how situational it really is, and possibly because most of us would have gone through something similar: having to go to the bathroom very urgently, but not finding one. It is material for some really bad dreams. And as it turned out, for some really good comedy. Janmaithri, released two months ago, is now on Amazon Prime, and there’s reason it shouldn’t go as unnoticed as it did when it came to the theatres. The humour is not forced and not at the expense of someone’s gender, looks, race, religion or class. It’s of-the-moment, non-sadistic, and the narrative does not go through a bunch of confusions that filmmakers often employ for comedy.

The reason why Samyukthan’s little problem strikes a chord and makes you laugh even as you sympathise with him, is because debut director John Manthrical has made it so straightforward for you. No forced humour there. It’s just the situation played out for you. And the dialogues that may appear absolutely in-the-moment for the characters but would appear darned funny for an observer.

The film revolves around a bunch of policemen, our dear Samyukthan, and some other night riders who come across a scheme the cops have introduced, to be friendlier with the common people: give them a cup of tea, so they wouldn’t be sleepy when they drive in the night. It is nice to see a woman cop easily merged in – with only one little reference to her gender, at the time of tea making. When she is asked to make tea, she says it is the time of the Women’s Wall (the human chain formed by women in Kerala on January 1 this year, to spread the message of gender equality), no way. And the men take that answer as a no and get on with their work, no fuss, no wisecracks. But the post-midnight tea, forced on poor Samyukthan, already reeling from a bad chicken dish that he had eaten on the way, puts him in his misery.

Finally, when Samyukthan gets into a toilet in a stranger’s house that lets him in, he opens the tap to ‘cover up’ the unpleasant sounds. But the bucket’s full and the water overflows and Samyukthan, awkwardly stepping out of the bathroom, has a wet pair of pants on him. No funny music needed for you to jump from an empathizer to a cruel passerby who laughs at someone else’s misfortune.

In the beginning of the movie, the director’s conversation with the producer – Vijay Babu who also acts in the film – is played for you. It is an experimental film, he says. Vijay likes it. It takes time for the humour to take effect, you need to be patient for the turn of events to create the ruckus. It is also a little far-fetched at times, as comedy often is.

Most of the movie is shot in the night. And night has been smartly used to lay the ground for a series of funny narratives.

The night is, of course, thick with mischief makers. Two men with masks prowling around to put a couple of black stickers on a house wall, like they have been doing in the past few days. Three other men – one of which is Vijay Babu – getting ready to steal a car, after a lot of pep talk. Vijay Babu is marvellous here as the elder brother among three siblings, telling his new-to-the-profession brothers how it is important to dress well while you are at your “job”, because dignity can’t be compromised.  

The bunch of policemen – headed by Indrans on the ground, and Irshad sitting in his home – are just perfect caricatures. Indrans as SI Shibu who is often unfair and likes to take credit all the time. Irshad, the man who held a group discussion to come up with this bright idea of ‘one tea for one life’ campaign.

Comedy comes in the moments. The moment SI Shibu receives with pleasure a flower from a young man to whom he gave tea, with the former insisting on calling him god. The same moment when the young man’s brother – Vijay Babu of course – stares at him hard for gleefully giving away “evidence” to a cop.

Comedy also comes in stray conversations. At several peak moments, there are totally random insignificant exchanges between key characters. It takes a thief to ask Ashraf and Samyukthan to stop doing a car review when they are chasing a stolen car.

There are no mandatory (read boring) stunts. Just a lot of fun running and chasing. And a love story waiting to happen.

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