Fahadh Faasil in Aavesham
Fahadh Faasil in Aavesham

Aavesham review: Fahadh Faasil is a vibe in this self-aware gangster spoof

'Aavesham' is the kind of film that you’ll either love or hate. Fahadh’s unhinged Ranga Annan is a vibe and the actor manages to bring a different kind of manic energy to him.
Aavesham (Malayalam)(3 / 5)

The difference between a good actor and a great actor is what they’re able to do with an underwritten character. A good actor will still find ways to make it work, capitalise on moments that bring alive the personality of the character. A great actor, though, will be able to humanise the cardboard cutout to the extent that you see layers where there are none. Fahadh Faasil in Jithu Madhavan’s action comedy Aavesham is that great actor. 

Aju (Hipzter), Bibi (Mithun Jai Shankar), and Shanthan (Roshan Shanavaz) are three young men from Kerala who join a Bengaluru engineering college. When seniors subject them to a cruel bout of ragging, they decide to seek revenge by finding a local rowdy who will back them. That local rowdy is Ranga Annan (Fahadh Faasil) – he dresses fully in white, is covered in gold chains and rings, wears sunglasses, and has a soft heart for mothers. He roams around with a gang of killers but doesn’t indulge in violence himself because of a promise he’s made to his mother. It’s KGF meets Jigarthanda. Why, he even speaks Kannada, Malayalam, and Hindi whenever he wants to make a point – Ranga Annan is conscious of his pan-India appeal.  

The caricature is over-the-top and in the hands of a lesser actor, it would have merely been a middling joke that outlasts its welcome. But Fahadh eats it up and leaves no crumbs. The screenplay takes its time to drop Ranga Annan on the audience, and the build-up to the introduction is marvellous. Aju, Bibi, and Shanthan go from one bar to another, hoping to strike a friendship with someone who obviously looks like a rowdy. When they run into Ranga Annan though, they’re dismissive of him because he doesn’t look the part.

The scene takes place in a toilet, close to 30 minutes into the film. We hear Ranga Annan before we see him, and the payoff is well worth the wait. How do we know Ranga Annan is special? There are long queues to the urinals but when Ranga Annan goes to pee, nobody is standing behind him. It’s a literal illustration of what Gen Z rudely calls “big dick energy”.  

Fahadh has played unhinged characters several times earlier, but he still manages to bring a different kind of manic energy to Ranga Annan. There’s a childlike enthusiasm in Ranga Annan, a yearning to be loved. In one scene, he cries that nobody gives him a ‘like’ even on Instagram – and unexpectedly, your heart breaks for him. He makes the character unpredictable, keeping the film afloat even as the plot shows signs of tedium. He’s uproarious when you expect violence, and he’s terrifying when you expect humour. The lines say one thing and his eyes say another (oh how the camera loves those eyes!). Fahadh has a wiry frame and yet has no insecurities taking his shirt off while playing a deadly gangster.

What’s more, he convinces you that he’s entirely capable of pulverising 20 people at the same time. It’s a combination of smart action choreography and the actor’s conviction that he can pull it off. Sushin Shyam’s background score elevates Ranga Annan while Sameer Thahir’s camera angles emphasise his absurdity. 

It’s not a coincidence that Ranga Annan is a Kireedam (1989) fan. The hard-hitting Sibi Malayil film is about an ordinary man who is forced to become a gangster by circumstances. Ranga Annan’s story is similar, and the three young men too are on the brink of a Kireedam-like trajectory. But as gangsters in the present, they are inspired by the dime-a-dozen gangster films of this era. It’s ludicrous and completely bonkers, but it sure is entertaining for the most part. 

Sajin Gopu as Amban, Ranga Annan’s trusted aide, is a hoot, as he goes up and down the emotional scale. The young actors in the cast who play Aju, Bibi, and Shanthan, the hapless objects of Ranga Annan’s love, are terrific too.  

As with Jithu’s debut film Romancham (2023), Aavesham is also thinly plotted. It never really rises above a one-line synopsis. Some of the scenes go on for too long and take the gag too far. The plot seems static, especially in the second half when the countdown to the exams begins. There are barely any women on screen, save Biju’s mother (Neeraja Rajendran is hilarious in the few scenes she’s given, with her “Happy alle?” refrain) and a couple of sex workers. But just as you wonder where the film is going, the banger of a climax with a frenzied Fahadh sucks you right back in. I didn’t care much for the epilogue though. 

Aavesham is the kind of film that you’ll either love or hate. As I walked out of the theatre, I heard someone saying, “This isn’t like a Malayalam movie, aliya. It’s more like a Tamil or Telugu film.” That’s true, but only if it’s read on the surface. If you are willing to give the film a chance and recognise its self-aware mockery, you’ll see that actually, the opposite is true. Ranga Annan is a vibe. 

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.

Sowmya Rajendran writes on gender, culture, and cinema. She has written over 25 books, including a nonfiction book on gender for adolescents. She was awarded the Sahitya Akademi’s Bal Sahitya Puraskar for her novel Mayil Will Not Be Quiet in 2015.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute