Ayalum Njanum Thammil Movie Review: A Nostalgic Ride down Memory Lane

Ayalum Njanum Thammil - Poster
Ayalum Njanum Thammil – Poster

All those following Malayalam Cinema know that Lal Jose has been one of the more prolific filmmakers in Malayalam Cinema of late. He is also one of the few Malayalam filmmakers who prefer to walk down the middle path and that’s why a lot of his films have managed to do well commercially and yet win the approval of the critics. After starting 2012 on a disastrous note with Spanish Masala and then bouncing back in style with Diamond Necklace he’s here now with his 3rd release of the year- Ayalum Njanum Thammil,( ANT from here on ). It’s quite an impressive feat for any director indeed these days to have multiple releases in the same year. This one is more of a quickie as it actually went on floors only in July and that makes it even more commendable considering the start to finish has happened in 3 months and the end product doesn’t look like it’s been made in a hurry.

ANT is a film that follows a non linear pattern and swings back and forth in time. Set against the medical backdrop, the film on one hand serves as a nostalgic ride and on the other hand it talks about the way different people look at one’s own profession and how for some the call of duty goes beyond everything else. Prithviraj plays Dr.Ravi Tharakan, a renowned cardiologist in town. One day he goes ahead and performs a critical surgery on a child without the permission of the father and unfortunately the child dies. The father who’s politically connected, brings in supporters who try to manhandle Dr.Tharakan and hence the doctor is forced by his colleagues to run away. With his car meeting with an accident there’s no news of him and he’s now being hounded everywhere.

Watching news of Dr.Tharakan on T.V is a surprised Dr.Vivek (Narain), an old friend and batchmate from medical college. And then the story moves back and forth in time as we witness Ravi Tharakan and Vivek’s playful days in medical college, their love life and finally their graduation as well. As part of a compulsory rural service for 2 years Dr.Tharakan reluctantly shifts to a hospital in Munnar which is being run by Dr.Samuel ( Prathap Pothen ), who cares for his patients more than anything else. Ravi and Dr.Samuel slowly but surely develop a bond among themselves as Dr.Samuel emerges as a mentor of sorts for Ravi and enables him to look at the medical profession in a completely new light.

The film moves at a gentle pace which works well for the film actually and the duration is just about right, at 135 minutes. The film

Ayalum Njanum Thammil - Prithviraj & Prathap Pothen
Ayalum Njanum Thammil – Prithviraj & Prathap Pothen

has some wonderful moments strewn throughout the film. Take for instance the practical exams and the viva voce which Ravi and Vivek face in medical college with disastrous results of course or the ragging scene, Lal Jose makes sure not to spend too much time on them but certainly lingers around just about for you take notice and feel impressed. The romantic angle between Prithviraj and Samvrutha Sunil (and Narain and Swasika) is established more or less with the help of a song and that in a way that’s good because the focus of the film is more on the relationship between Dr.Tharakan and Dr.Samuel.

Jomon T.John’s cinematography works extremely well, be it the outdoor locales of Munnar with all the natural glory or the indoors of the medical college and hospital. I was a bit surprised when Lal Jose decided to move away from his usual music composer-Vidyasagar to work with the veteran Ouseppachan instead. But it’s heartening to see that the decision has worked and very well at that and Sarath Vayalar’s lyrics have also aided in making the songs work. ‘Janavariyil’ sung by Vijay Yesudas, Franci and Cicily seemed to be a song that the team had great faith in considering the way the song was promoted majorly, leading to the release of the film. Sometimes overkill does work as in case of this song which is extremely breezy and easy on the ears. ‘Azhalinte Azhangalil’ (male version by Nikhil Mathew and female version by Abhirami Ajai) is a soft romantic track which works on repeated hearing. ‘Thulli Manjinullil’ (female version by Gayathri and male version by Najim Arshad) is refreshing and kind of acts like an anthem of sorts for the film as it fits into the background whenever it’s played in the film.

The film also gets the casting part right indeed though I’m not sure if the film needed so many characters. Narain though projected as the 2nd hero of the film is in reality just one of the characters of the film who has more of a presence in the medical college portions. Samvrutha Sunil in what is touted as her last movie before her impending wedding has surprisingly nothing much to do in the film apart from being the one and only love interest of Prithviraj in the film. Remya Nambeesan, a colleague of Prithviraj in the rural hospital is quite good. There was a fleeting moment in the film when I feared if in typical style if there would be some kind of romantic angle shown between Prithvi and Remya, but luckily Lal Jose rises to the occasion by steering clear of such clichéd possibilities. Rima Kallingal is ok but her character again doesn’t have much to do in the film.

Ayalum Njanum Thammil - Prithviraj & Narain
Ayalum Njanum Thammil – Prithviraj & Narain

But if the film works to a large extent then it’s thanks to the scenes which depict the interaction between Prathap Pothen and Prithviraj. True some people might feel that the film is trying to impart moral science lessons but then everything is done in a subtle way. Prathap Pothen as Dr.Samuel reaches out to Dr.Tharakan through his actions and not by giving out emotional lectures. This has been a good year for the veteran actor-director Prathap Pothen as he’s showed with films like 22 Female Kottayam and ANT that he’s not done yet, far from the contrary in fact. I am sure I would not be far from the truth if I mention that this has to be among the all time best performances of Prithviraj (and he’s done more than 70 films mind you already in his career so far ). As the playful medical college student, the lover of Sainu, a reluctant rural hospital junior doctor and as the responsible cardiac surgeon, his role has various shades and it’s extremely heartening to note that Prithvi pulls it off with considerable ease. This again is a reiteration of the fact that he’s a director’s actor and someone who can deliver, given the right amount of guidance.

For all the good stuff if there’s something that hurts then it’s the clear and apparent way to come across as a different film indeed. The film tries and tries a little too hard to look different and while I am always for non linear films but then here I feel the film keeps jumping across time zones a bit too much, leaving the viewer a little fatigued at times. Also as stated earlier some of the characters look slightly irrelevant to the proceedings. Added to it there are certain moments which look outright simple to believe. However despite all these odds the film works and works to a large extent mainly because the film chooses to play it simple and yet brave enough by keeping the spotlight on the relationship between a mentor and his protégé, and in the process relegate the romance to the background. At the end when you finish the movie if you leave with either a smile or a tear caressing your cheek then be rest assured, the film has worked for you alright.

2 Comments

  1. badri says:

    great role for pothen, good one for prithvi and solid performances from them. pleasant music . few really good scenes. thats about it. This whole non-linear thing and Lal Jose’s chakkar of shocking opening-flashback and safe ending is getting tiring.
    i too will give the movie 3 stars with difficulty, but next time these folks need to really push much harder

    Like

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