Skip to main content

Anju Sundarikal Malayalam Movie Review: Dulquar Salman in full throttle, Fahadh Faasil disappoints

Anju Sundarikal, as the title suggests 'Five Beautiful Women,' is a poignant anthology of five short films that celebrate five female protagonists and their tumultous lives. These five films play on different themes and emotions, and on the whole, it is an interesting anthology.


Anju Sundarikal - Sethulakshmi
The first film, Sethulakshmi, is a heart-wrenching portrayal of sexual abuse of a small girl whose hobby is to collect newspaper clippings of newly wed couples from newspapers and she embarks on getting a similar photograph taken of herself with her best buddy from school. What appears as an innocent wish is the honeytrap that leads the little girl to understand the meaning of fear. 

Each scene in Sethulakshmi  seemed to tear into my heart, particularly in a scene where the photographer's hands and glance linger a tad too obscenely on the innocent, unsuspecting girl whose eyes are filled with fear. There is another scene where she is so frightened that she curls up at the feet of her parents - these nuances where words remain unspoken in a frightened little girl's mind and her feelings spill over into trembling actions. These symbolic emotional vignettes are striking and leave you feeling as naked as the girl was forced to be. It's a true masterpiece short film. You will have tears in your eyes despite the fact that the nuances are powerfully layered with non-verbal meaning.

Kudos to the Cinematographer-turned-Director Shyju Khalid who makes his debut as a director with Sethulakshmi. 


Anju Sundarikal - Esha
Esha, starring Isha Sharvani and Nivin Pauly, portrays two good-looking young people who meet on New Year's day in a beautiful home. The first scene itself is a hint: of a girl whose feet look beautiful as she pirouettes and practices her graceful dancing and acrobatic skills. But we may not realize that this subtle shot has a deeper meaning till we watch the entire film. Nivin Pauly impresses more than one would expect and matches Isha Sharvani in confidence, body language and overall they bring on screen a sizzling chemistry.

Sameer Thahir directs this light, romantic film. However, the film is like an icing on the cake and the cake simply does not fit in with the other films in this anthology.


Anju Sundarikal - Gowri

In the backdrop of a hill station surrounded by a vast expanse of forest area, a married couple live (starring Kavya Madhavan and Biju Menon). Their lives seem to have a set routine that they are not keen to break. A scene that I particularly liked was where Gowri is explaining to her dance students that the essence of the Nataraja pose is that in creation, there also lies the act of destruction. This dialogue captures the overall theme of the movie as it progresses forward. 

On the eve of their wedding anniversary, a visit by their friends (starring Rimi Tomi and Tini Tom) somehow changes the plateau-like stance of their marital relationship. A tragedy strikes and leaves Gowri emotionally shattered. 

Somehow, I was most disappointed by Gowri. I could not connect to Gowri, Jo or their complicated relationship that hinges on melodramatic, gloomy sense of self-centredness. The characterization baffles me as much as the story itself.   

This rare couple combination of two fine actors with a very versatile body of work raised my expectations. Doubling my expectations was the fact that Aashiq Abu is the director. But after watching Gowri, it was a most insipid experience, like drinking soda without fizz. 

Anju Sundarikal - Kullantey Bharya

Kullantey Bharya, directed by Amal Neerad,is the best story that I liked in this anthology.This short film is about a dwarf, his intense love relationship with his tall and lovely looking wife. Their love story is set against the backdrop of a hostile society, with its hawk-like stance. Does the short film taunt at the hypocrisy of the middle class Malayalis, particularly, the women? 

It shows how women are jealous, cruel and bitchy because of something missing in their own lives that they look at a happy woman with suspicion of the worst kind, anger and hatred while men look at her with longing and lust. It drives home a question - is the 'new generation' Malayali a supremely judgmental animal who no longer embraces the once-intellectual approach of sharing the happiness or the beauty of others' lives into his/her own life? 

Are we, so-called 'educated' Malayalis, losing our sense of humanity? That is crux of this story that taunts the emergence of the moral police in 'God's own country.'

I loved the presentation of Kullantey Bharya - the emotional quotient that is reflective in its characterization, the pace, the plot, the falling rain, the body movements of all those who acted in this short film. Playing the role of a professional photographer who is stuck in the wheelchair for some months, Dulquar Salman impresses yet again and brings us a most moving performance even though the character is limited in the range of physical movements. His voice-over effect is excellent and packs in the right melange of emotions and balances well with logical observations that emerge from a young, curious mind. This is the best short film in Anchu Sundarikal and a must-watch.


Anju Sundarikal - Aami

Directed by Anwar Rasheed, Aami is about a man (starring Fahadh Faasil) who is constantly driving and on the move and on the roads, past midnight hours, seeking and sealing deals that are important to him. The way he does it is as unconventional as the person that he is. Nothing is good or bad in his way of getting things done. He wants it done, period. That his wife's innocence fascinates and grates on his nerves is what makes this an interesting story. But the pace of the plot loses steam way too often as too many characters are cramped into the short length of this movie including a cheesy fling with an old flame.  

What I liked in particular was the way his wife would call him every few minutes with a Malayalam riddle and ask him to solve it. One would naturally wonder why she keeps doing this and towards the end, it is clear - if she didn't, he'd probably have fallen asleep and had an accident - small or fatal. That she is innocent is one aspect of her personality. That she is protecting her husband by staying awake and entertaining him with riddle solving is a deeper and more poignant facet of a woman's personality. 

Portraying emotions such as anger, temptation to have a fling all over again, trying hard to be a dutiful husband - these are the conflicts that Fahadh Faasil tries to portray but, however, disappoints.

Yes, 5 Sundarikal is a mixed bag of emotional vignettes. I can tell you one thing for sure. Dulquar Salman takes the cake and eats it too. He's brilliant and effortlessly so.


♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading my post. I dedicate this post with love and gratitude to all Malayalam movie goers who enjoy good cinema. REQUEST: Please SHARE this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people who enjoy and support the growth of the Malayalam film industry. ♥♥

Comments

Anonymous said…
I for one thought that Fahad stole the show. He brought out his conflict very well..
Mister Vinster said…
Hey there Swapna,
Loved your review, although I feel that it's a tad too late to react to it. But I'm gonna go ahead anyway. I just saw this movie for the first time yesterday, and IMHO, Fahadh did a fantastic job. He masterfully portrays the internal battle between the two extremes of his morality. I especially loved how the grittiness of urban reality was impeccably balanced out by the delicacy of his wife, thus showing both sides of border. Very few actors can effortlessly portray the subtleties of the lead character, and I'm happy to say that Fahadh nailed it.

But besides that, I agree with everything you've said. Which is saying a great deal, because I'm not a people pleaser...lol.

Ciao
Vidya said…
Just watched the movie and googled to land on your blog. Beautiful review. As you so rightly point out, the non-verbal language was the brilliance of 'Sethulakshmi'. I crumbled as I watched that piece, and I couldn't bear to even absorb what was happening to that little child.
I think 'Gowri' was trying to reflect how man can be equally moved to survival, as to destruction. It appeared as if Biju Menon had bipolar disorder.
All in all, the anthology was a beautiful compilation and an emotional treat!

Most Popular Posts

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

Many years ago, when I wrote this post on Kerala's caste system, I had not considered the possibility that my thoughts and my personal journey would receive such online abuse or that I would be seen as some one who was trying to insult other castes. The intention of writing is always to share an experience and not to insult others. My experience of motherhood and marriage would be different from yours. When I write about my experience, it is illogical to shout that as being insulting to your experience because our journeys are entirely different narratives. 

My question is - why do you ABUSE any caste or person here? You are free to disagree but why do you ABUSE? How does that reflect on YOU?

In my article, I shared what trials I went through, without any intention to insult any community.The intention of my article is to question - why are we even exchanging insults over an issue called caste? 

Should we not be aspiring to be above caste considerations instead of abusing each other …

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. 
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he became very enthusiastic about chanting the mantras. Following this, my mother taught him the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and he took to …

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Earth Angels have amazing super powers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions &  becoming invisible at will
DO READ: ASK MORE, FEAR LESS.

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:


You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in this world. But y…

A Dad's advice to the daughter he loves: Be yourself, remember you are special and treasure your strengths

Just a week ago, Dad gave me a very emotional pep talk at the Bangalore airport. The good thing is that whenever I feel emotionally vulnerable or stressed out, I replay Dad's conversation. It lifts me up and instantly brings a huge smile to my face. That's my Dad - yeah! 




As a teenager, Bangalore used to be one of my favorite cities though the garden city was not as ''global'' and ''vibrant'' as it is today. It was a pretty cool place to go shopping for stylish accessories, not that I could splurge and go crazy with shopping but I could do so on a limited budget. So, I used to look forward to our summer trips to Bangalore, from where we would head out to Whitefield. 

The busy, broad streets, the scent of street food and the vibrant atmosphere had always perked me up every time I reached Bangalore. Be it heading to Puttaparthi or Whitefield, my parents and I have traveled to Bangalore so many times that it became a kind of ''routine'…

Power of Love

                  Love without a price tag, conditions attached or the fine print of debt 

At the age of five or six years, I told my Dad that I would never ever opt for an arranged marriage, especially the transactional ''bride seeing'' ceremony, where the bride is paraded around like a fancy showpiece before a bunch of curious strangers, who are more interested in how much gold she is wearing than her IQ.
Dad, being my ever patient, serene hero, just smiled that calm, soothing smile that some of you are already familiar with and he said, ''Sure, that's fine."
I was expecting a full flung family drama, a storm, maybe even being thrown out for the audacity of breaking the much-treasured family tradition. How dare a girl even say such a thing to her parents, right?
Nothing happened. Dad was so cool. Then it struck me - maybe I am adopted. That's why it doesn't matter so much to him. 
I did manage to summon the courage and ask Dad several times, "…

Five ways to take charge of your anger

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems -- not people; to focus your energies on answers -- not excuses.” ― William Arthur Ward
Every day, the newspaper headlines are full of scary stories of people killing each other over trivial things - mostly these incidents happen when individuals lose their temper and turn violent. In traffic jams across Noida in the evenings, people don't hesitate to walk out and hit each other. No one stops anyone. Everyone likes a big, bad fight. It's great to vent. After all, what's the big deal about getting angry? After all, if you cannot express what pisses you off, how can you call yourself human? 

[Source: Pixabay] Here's what I think: Anger is an egoistic projection of our own minds.  It also stems from an expectation that has not been fulfilled.

People who get angry easily do not respond to situations rationally.  It destroys them first before it goes out and delivers blows to others around. That is why spiritual masters ask peopl…

Top 10 Skincare tips for Summer

Come summer, and we women worry a lot about how the sun lashes out on our skin. True, skincare tips for the summer are plenty but what about the hushed secrets - yes, those tried and tested family secrets that are passed on from mother to daughters? [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]




Here are some that are totally easy to do. Best of all, these are effective and bring on a feel-good factor in the peak of summer.

1. Replace water with rosewater. It keeps your skin luminous and fragrant throughout the day. It's a good toner too.

2. Cleanse your skin by combining these ingredients - honey, milk, rosewater/rosepetals and turmeric. Add a dash of olive oil and yes, it feels wonderful.

3. Almond oil body baths are a must-have! You will smell delicious all day. This summer, skip all those body lotions & moisturizers! You will love the way almond oil pampers your skin all day!

4. Use a mixture of almond oil and olive oil for your feet. Your feet will sparkle an…