Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum
And it is Friday and Thank God for that! Another weekend comes by and has its share of new releases, so lets get to them one by one. First up, I finished watching the new Malayalam film Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum which is now streaming on Amazon Prime. I must say that I had been keeping a keen eye on the OTT release of the film given that I had previously missed out on its theatrical release.
I did have small issues during its theatrical release and this is more to do with the distributors and exhibitors more than the movue itself. The original theatrical release of the film was on 28th April ’23 but the film did not release elsewhere across the globe apart from Kerala. By the time the film did get a very limited the following week, the world was divided between The Kerala Story and the Malayalam film ‘2018’ which was rather unfortunate. What that did was that this film did slip under the radar with almost no ‘buyers’.
My gripe stems from the fact that if Malayalam films(or for that matter any film from the Tamil, Telugu or Kannada Film Industry) are doing well on OTT, why can’t there be a strategy to procure and release films on a slightly larger scale! There needs to be some starting point and if I have to take this discussion a step further, even a much talked about film like ‘2018’ had such a limited release. If the screens are limited, the audience will never discover the film till its OTT release. Which also brings me to the question – are the number of screens in our country enough given the amount of films releasing every weekend? Something to ponder about as I ventured into Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum, a film that did seem to be in the zone of a feel-good comedy like Njan Prakasan. So then does Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum follows the story of a protagonist who gets stuck in a bit of a pickle while returning to Mumbai from Kerala. And I have intentionally kept the story description vague in order to keep the spoilers at bay, but the story is a refreshing feel-good comedy that will put a smile on your face. The screenplay standing at almost 3 hours might be an issue for many people and honestly, the drama could have been slightly more taut and focused in the second hour. But its beauty lies in its vibe which is bright and infectious, that does translate into a great watch.
The drama is essentially about its two halves. It opens in a rather typical Malayalam film template that is always so focused on the world building that continues for a good 50 odd minutes. And what this period does is that it allows the viewers sufficient time to invest in the characters and their journey. So you are introduced to a protagonist who is said to run an Ayurvedic shop in Mumbai. He is 34 and unmarried while slowly giving up hopes on finding the right girl. A nice little scene does indicate him being toxic in one of his previous relationships that eventually fell through. You are also introduced to an interesting bunch of characters around him, all of whom ensure that the vibe of the film is justified. The comedy is prevalent and leads to some hilarious scenes. The conflict is deftly introduced in a rather unexpected manner that changes the course of the drama but still retaining its comedy, a clear template reference to the Malayalam film Njan Prakasan.
The proceedings are interesting and engrossing wherein the drama can be categorised as a feel-good comedy, a road trip film, a social issue film, a Rom-Com and all of the above. I really did like the flow in the drama for most parts wherein each event lead to another in the most organic manner. There was attention to detailing too which made the drama that much more enjoyable. I did like the ability of the writing to lead the audience in one direction before flipping the narrative at the halfway mark. The drama did leave me with too many questions at the halfway mark which were slowly catered to in the second hour. It was a tricky proposition on paper but pulled off rather neatly.
My minor issue with the second hour was that it tried to pack in too many things together. While I totally get the idea of giving the film a more wholistic look and tying its loose ends together, as a viewer I was slightly(and faintly) distracted from the main issue in hand. Had this portion in the drama been slightly more taut and focused, I would have been even more emotionally invested in the drama. That said, the comedy really works wonders in the film and keeps the ship afloat. There are subplots within subplots that have a comic streak to them and they will surely put a smile on your face. The budding love angle was also sweet and I did love the chemistry between the two leads.
My major issue with the film was in its overdramatic, simplistic and rushed final act that didn’t gel well with the overall vibe of the film. It also did seem slightly more random than it should have been while being slightly confused in which direction it should go, particularly with a few subplots. But taking nothing away from the journey, it does stay true to its core emotions of being a feel-good comedy with a nice little message at the end. Overall, the screenplay is well written and makes for a warm impact.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and I did like how the situational humour did arise from the lines. Also, I did like how self-aware the writers were by staging the lines across languages based on the area where the drama is set in. It did add authencity to the drama. The music is fabulous and I shall definitely go back and revisit a couple of the most soothing songs that I have heard in a while. The BGM is good and enhances the emotions of various scenes through the film. The cinematography is wonderful and it captures the outdoor locations beautifully with some lovely wide angle shots. It also does contribute well to the vibe of the film. The editing is pretty good and maintains the scene transitions pretty well. Director Akhil Sathyan does a fabulous job here in sticking well to the vibe of the drama. He seldom allows the drama to get heavy and in turn keeps the viewers invested throughout. The direction is pretty good here.
The performances are excellent here. Avyukht Menon as Ashwin is adorable and he does a fabulous job. Ahaana Krishna and Abhiram Radhakrishnan as Peter have their moments to shine. Althaf Salim is affable and does evoke laughter with his inability to speak Hindi. Chhaya Kadam as Nani and Dr. Mohan Agashe as Nana are first rate. Vineeth as Riyas is again a layered character and he does full justice to it. Piyush Kumar as Savio is unabashed in a job well done.
Viji Venkatesh as Laila is such a heartwarming character pulled off with a sense of poise and dignity wherein she does a wonderful job here. Dhwani Rajesh as Nidhi is wonderfully restrained with a nice little screen presence. Anjana Jayaprakash as Hamsadhwani looks pretty and has a charming presence onscreen. She had to internalise much of her emotions and veil them under a normal smiling face and she is absolutely brilliant to witness here. Fahadh Faasil is probably the best actor in the country at the moment. If he can pull off a Joji with a sense of rawness, he can also pull off a Pachu with a different kind of an energy. He is excellent with his antics and goofiness that makes his character so likable. His comic timing is on point and he literally nails his character here!
Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum is a sweet little feel-good comedy that does make for a refreshing watch. I did have a smile on my face by the end of it. Available on Amazon Prime.