Sathyan Anthikad, who has delighted fans of Malayalam cinema with comedies like Sandesham, Nadodikaatu,
Jomonte Suvisheshangal, starring Dulquer Salmaan, Mukesh, Anupama Parameswaran, Aishwarya Rajesh and others, is about a Christian business family in Thrissur and their ups and downs.
If you've watched Nivin Pauly's Jacobinte Swargarajyam which came out in 2016, you'd probably suffer from a sense of deja vu - both films are about large Christian families and both follow a narrative arc of riches to rags and subsequent redemption.
However, while the Zachariahs of Jacobinte Swargarajyam were saccharine to the point of annoying at times, the Vincent family from Anthikad's film are delightfully mercenary and real. Sample this: when Jomon (Dulquer Salmaan) falls for a rich girl, the entire family conspires to get them together, calculating how much they will gain through the "joint venture". Their swargarajyam, in other words, is as worldly as it gets.
Vincent (Mukesh) is a widower with four children - the youngest of which is Jomon who is the prodigal son. He spends daddy's money unthinkingly, has been trying to pass his MBA forever and generally goes about life without any sense of responsibility. But when fortunes change, it is Jomon who stands by his lost father and tries to turn things around.
Although a tad too long, there is not a dull moment in the film. And considering that much of the story functions on male bonding and friendships, there is surprisingly no aggression or showcasing of masculinity save a scene when Jomon drives a bus (very stylishly, may I add...even if the heroine decides to ignore him for it!).
Instead, we have sensitive and sensible male characters who express their emotions, back down when they know they should, and emerge heroes through the little struggles that play out in everyday life. The father-son relationship between Dulquer and Mukesh, with the nagging, ragging and outraging that's typical of such a bond is beautifully done and both actors bring their best to the table.
Innocent as the corrupt husband of Vincent's clueless sister who happens to be the mayor and Manobala as Perumal, Vincent's friend, are a riot and ensure that the film never drags. The scene when the latter shows off his new home to Vincent and Jomon is guaranteed to make you spill some popcorn.
Anupama Parameswaran once again plays the pretty girl-passing cloud in the hero's life although the superhit Nokki Nokki number made me believe she had more to do in the film.
It's Aishwarya Rajesh who gets a more substantial role - as a young and ambitious Tamil Nadu woman from a lower middle class family who is stingy with her smiles and focused on her work. There are many Tamil films which have heroines playing a Malayalee girl and the reverse seems to be catching on in Mollywood.
Much of the film is set in Tiruppur and S Kumar's camera captures the natural beauty surrounding the textile town with skill. Vidyasagar's score complements the narrative, allowing the actors to emote rather than spelling out their sentiments to the audience.
Jomonte Suvisheshangal is a lighthearted and enjoyable watch, with all those little insights and observations on human nature that Anthikad is so good at capturing. And of course, there's Dulquer Salmaan riding a bike worth Rs 18 lakh - how can you not like that?