Premalu review: Mamitha-Naslen’s striking performances hold this cheesy rom-com together
Premalu (Malayalam)(2.5 / 5)
With some adorably lifelike conversations and a few fantastic performances, Premalu still does not quite reach the mark in terms of grounded storytelling the way its director Girish AD’s first outing did. After the high school love story Thanneer Mathan Dinangal, and the college rom-com Super Saranya, Girish has once again explored youthful romance – this time letting it go a tad too cheesy, but held together by the effortless acts of its young cast led by Mamitha Baiju and Naslen.
Mamitha especially is all too wonderful, neither overplaying – and she easily could have – nor underplaying a perky young professional, newly recruited to a Hyderabad-based company. Her role as the newly independent young woman in a new town -- a favourite among storytellers of all times -- is warm enough to touch a chord with women of and past that age. There is no hyping it up, and thankfully, none of the woman-with-flying-hair and coffee-cup-in-a-windy-balcony cliches pop up. Three young women do hop on a terrace with beer cans and talk about life and relationships in a scene reminiscent of one from the 2010 film Salt and Pepper, but this has somehow become more relatable with the changing times. It is not there to shock but to give a picture of a random weekend in the lives of these women.
Parallely, the life of a less fortunate young man without a job and no luck in love, rolls by in another part of the town. Naslen, a perfect fit for the role, gets picked again by Girish after Thanneer Mathan and Super Sharanya. It seems the actor is growing through the movies of Girish. In the first, he was a high school boy, in the second a college student, and now, a job seeker. As an actor, Naslen has grown from playing supporting characters to lead, emoting freely as a man falling in love, with perfect timing for humour.
Comedy in Premalu is not just a tool, it is very much a part of the storyline. Two male characters (Naslen and Shyam Mohan) vying for a woman’s attention rely on “jokes” to beat each other. But except for a few, many of the jokes fall flat, and after a point, the loud laughing-at-someone often used to enhance the humour on screen is simply overdone. Naslen and Sangeeth Prathap, playing his friend, do pull off a few fun stunts and their partnership is played out so well it makes you ponder over male friendships.
Female friendship, on the other hand, portrayed across the street, by Mamitha and Akhila, appears less deep. It can be put down to two male writers, Girish and Kiran Josey, scripting the story, or else, it can be argued that some women are just that way.
While it is a relief that it is not all falling heads over heels at first sight and that Mamitha’s character is not uncharacteristically drawn to anyone around her for the sake of pushing the story onward, the pursuance and doglike devotion of the men, written for humour, get overstretched. Her cluelessness of all the male attention gets unreal and her lack of reaction, despite being an otherwise expressive person, is left unexplained. But what becomes a downer more than any of this is the forced reaction that comes in the end, like there had to be an explanation for her choices and lack of interest up to then.
Music by Vishnu Vijay, through all the ups and downs of Premalu, at times has you nodding along, and at others, remains unnoticeable in the background. It was also mildly surprising that an original song from an older movie – Ya ya ya from Devaragam – was used for the film.
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 producers or any other members of its cast and crew.