‘Thattathin Marayathu’ is Vineeth Sreenivasan’s second directorial outing after his promising debut ‘Malarvadi Arts Club’. This one is produced by Lumiere Film Company, an outfit owned by veteran actors Mukesh and Sreenivasan. As this piece hits the web on the eve of the film’s Mumbai release, sify.com is reporting that the movie is the highest grossing Malayalam film of all time. So is the movie worth the hype and the historic collections? Is Vineeth as a director here to stay? What is the USP of the film? These are some of the questions I will be trying to answer explicitly and implicitly in this interview.
‘Thattathin Marayathu’ never even tries to pretend that it is going to deal with a radically new story. The movie, set in Thalassery, primarily revolves around Vinod’s (Nivin Pauly) determined journey to woo Aisha (Isha Talwar) and its eventual outcome. Vinod is a pretty much good for nothing college student and Communist party worker in the picturesque coastal town of Thalassery. The first half, told in flashback, is about how he ends up meeting Aisha and his continuous efforts to chase and woo her through college culturals, adventurous trips to her college and her house and eventual win of approval. The second half of the story sees Vinod take the help of his close friends, Abdu (Aju Varghese in a fantastic performance), Manoj (Deepak Parambol) and Sub Inspector Premkumar (Manoj.K.Jayan) in his relentless efforts to win the hand of Aisha who by now has clearly accepted his feelings for her.
The story brief above is intentionally kept very vague as the devil in this case is truly in the detail and revealing anything more would seriously rob the viewer of the true joy to be experienced while watching the movie. As said before Vineeth makes no efforts to hide the fact that the movie follows a love story 101 formula as far as the story is concerned. But what clinches the case are the refreshing ambience, pleasant and constant Broadway like musical presence, fantastic performances by one and all and most importantly an extremely realistic yet witty grounding to the cultural setup of the geography the movie is set in. Let me throw a bit more light on these.
Right from the opening scene involving two kids discussing about a ‘Ummachi’ girl they see, there is an inherent cuteness and honesty in the movie which draws you into the proceedings. This is only enhanced continuously with Vinod’s introduction and his extremely sweet and witty initiation and subsequent scenes with Aisha. The cinematography by Jomon.T.John (Chappa Kurishu, Beautiful) and lovely score by ShaanRahman (Malarvadi Arts Club) are so solid that not even in a frame of the first half you can separate their work from the movie itself. Vinod’s gang of friends led by Abdu, Manoj and Musthafa (Ahmed Siddique) are so witty that they are truly relatable to one and all’s real life pals. Aju Varghese for large parts is hilarious with his colourful love life and wise cracks on women, but in a few vital scenes such as the ones involving confrontation in a Muslim colony shows his reliable self too. In the few scenes that he gets, Deepak Parambol gives Vinod’s love story and the movie all the sincerity he has got and makes even the most clichéd friendship scenes relatable. This trend is repeated with the veterans too. Be it Manoj.K.Jayan’s supportive role (in the love story) as a friendly SI, Vanitha’s solitary powerful scene with her son and most importantly Sreeni’swhistle worthy portrayal in the most clichéd of scenes as the girl’s father(performing a dialogue usually reserved for the girl’s mom), they all prove that conviction and honesty can bring life to even the most done-to-death of situations in the Indian love story paradigm.
The musical score is so lovely, yet intrinsic to the whole process that though I am besotted with it, I still can’t pluck it out of the storyline and say that I like this song or that tune. The ones that immediately come to my mind are Muthuchippi(with Remya Nambeesan in the female side of the mic), Shyamambaram and Namosthuthe. The first 2 are also easy to remember as they come post Aisha’s acceptance of Vinod’s love. Otherwise the bulk of the first half is one pleasant musical blur. Another great thing to notice is the subtle approach to handle profound thoughts such as secularism(watch out for it during the Duffmuttu practice scenes), volatile tempers involved in student politics(indirectly shown in a scene involving Manoj) and a lot of tongue-in-cheek witty barbs at the minority community(all in totally acceptable taste).
The movie has its own good load of flaws. The 2nd half is nowhere as impactful as the first for a variety of reasons including the reduction in inflow of lovely songs, a pretty annoying character in Aisha’s tuition teacher Hamza (Bhagath Manuel) and a general lack of things to tell or freshness to demonstrate. Also it is pretty obvious that the movie is not going to try investing too much hard work in handling tough and emotionally demanding facets of a Hindu-Muslim love story. All these to a good extent dilute the proceedings, but using the odd mom-son sequence here and a cute first kiss scene there, Vineeth ensures that he keeps throwing something engaging at the right intervals.
All in all, Thattathin Marayathu is definitely a ‘weekend brightening’ watch with credible candy floss moments for the romantics, a lot of truly ‘smile worthy moments’ for one and all and some refreshing conviction from the whole cast and crew. It definitely doesn’t have anything path breaking to say but the form far outweighs the material and you are more than adequately engaged for the majority of its playing time. 3 for the movie, .25 for the soundtrack and another .25 for the veterans(Sreeni, Manoj, Vanitha) who in each of their blink-and-miss sequences easily stamp their class. 3.5 it is.