‘Argentina Fans Kaattoorkadavu’ review: This football film fails to connect
‘Argentina Fans Kaattoorkadavu’ review: This football film fails to connect

‘Argentina Fans Kaattoorkadavu’ review: This football film fails to connect

Aishwarya Lekshmi leaves behind stereotype and does well as Mehru while Kalidas Jayaram seems limited in a film that is just not told well.

There’s going to be football and there’s going to be romance, you know that much from the title and the posters. But Argentina Fans Kattoorkadavu doesn’t tell either story too well. You get a whiff of that from the very first scene when Chandramohan, a football fan in Kerala, tries to get a church priest to recite the last prayers for Andres Escobar. The real-life Columbian player had allegedly been murdered in the wee hours of July 2, 1994 and it’s on that night that the fictional Chandramohan wakes the priest up with a photo of Escobar.

The priest’s fear at the knock on his door and the half-hearted prayer that he recites are only the first of the many poor attempts at comedy that follow. Random scenes appear stitched together from there on, none of them leaving a lasting impression. Midhun Manuel Thomas, the director, known for his Aadu series and well-made movies like Annmaria Kalippilaanu, perhaps wanted to experiment with a really simple script that would have no twists or turns or any big surprises, and that would have been fine if the plain straightforward story was told well.

The original story, written by Ashokan Cheruvil, might have the innocence of a suburb in Irinjalakuda but the scripting doesn’t convert that innocence onto the screen. You simply fail to connect to the football frenzy that Kerala is much known for, with its strange obsession over certain teams every World Cup.

Kalidas Jayaram, playing the son of the Escobar fan Chandramohan, grows up to be an Argentinean supporter, forming a club with his friends.

If you look keenly, there are tiny elements of novelty – in how the friends cook up a little scheme to raise the money for a TV for the club or the way the spirit of Escobar accompanies Vipinan (Kalidas) when he needs to bare his mind, or the way Aishwarya Lekshmi’s character Mehru is written.

They are childhood friends, Mehru and Vipinan, the families never talking religion till the kids grow up. And then they do. Twice, Vipinan tries to tell her about his feelings, but she brushes him off. “It won’t work,” she says, “do you want me to be banned from your home?”

Her character is not written as one to follow the hero with keen eyes, be charmed by his heroics. She is a strong presence in the small town, her contributions very important as even in Class 12, she works for a political party outside the school as the rules say, and in the school, leads a house and its football matches (but doesn’t play). It felt good to see that her studies and other talents are not left behind in school or college as you might expect in traditional households. You only wince a little when her dad says he is Communist and has therefore “given” her all the freedom. Mehru, unmindful of all that, goes on being strong in her words and actions, involving herself more in political activities, studies and football clubs. Aishwarya Lekshmi, who was nearly getting stereotyped in the modern-sophisticated-young-woman roles, does beautifully as Mehru.

Kalidas appears limited. In one of the first songs they have together (and there is a lot of music in the film, at times lame and repetitive, courtesy Gopi Sunder), Kalidas expresses his new feelings for his childhood friend by smiling ear to ear throughout the song. He is not a bad actor, he just seems limited, especially when you compare him to his childhood self when he won awards for his performances in movies like Kochu Kochu Santhoshangal and Ente Veedu Appuntem.

Even as the film does not make a big deal of an inter-religious relationship, there are mentions of Vipinan’s mother wanting to marry off her children only to the ‘Warrier’ caste, nothing “lower”. And at a time when Mehru gets close to a guy called Ajay Ghosh, Vipinan tells Escabor’s spirit that he is more angry because she appears to like another Hindu, and that too a guy of darker colour and lower caste! Even as he says in the next line that this should not be said, it leaves behind a sour taste.

The football fights between Argentina and Brazil fans take up a lot of screen time, but fail to connect. Sports movies are expected to have a certain quality that makes even a non-follower feel the spirit when the team the movie roots for plays. But the movie fails to evoke this spirit even as they raise a gigantic cut-out of Argentine player Lionel Messi and dance around it for a good 10 minutes, and even as Escabor’s spirit keeps following Vipinan around. The ideas are all fresh, it’s just the execution that failed, and those offensive lines could have been avoided. 

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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