Ashiq Abu continues his feel-good form of movies with Da Thadiya
A young Malayalam film director always comes into the industry with the weight of expectations. Even now a generation will talk about the magical 1980s when a Padmarajan or a Bharathan, to name a few, defied conventions and etched deep celluloid imprints.
We are talking mainstream movies here where aesthetics were honoured much to the applause of the box-office. At the other extreme, you had Aravindan and Adoor Gopalakrishnan, men who made serious films that did the rounds of every major international film festival. Into this world of enviable benchmarks, Ashiq Abu has carved a quiet corner of delight. His latest offering Da Thadiya (Hey Fatso) fits into his nascent repertoire of unusual themes and the steady dismantling of stereotypes.
An over-weight hero Luka (played by Shekhar Menon) tugs at our heartstrings and offers an entirely new perspective on obesity. Though the central character’s redemption in the second-half might seem too simplistic, the overall treatment, the sense of irreverence – the ‘You Are My Panjasara’ (sugar) ditty is a hoot - and the language of Kochi’s youth (Malayalam spliced with slivers of English), is real unlike the earlier enforced English dialogues in Suresh Gopi’s action capers.
Abu’s feel-good vibe with a fresh twist was evident in his 2011 release Salt and Pepper though he made his debut as director with the Mammootty starrer Daddy Cool. Salt and Pepper weaved in lip-smacking Kerala cuisine as a strong character by itself along with mistaken identities and a middle-aged romance.
None who watched the titles roll, would have escaped hunger pangs as the camera lingered on various food vignettes from God’s Own Country. The bigger takeaway was presenting Baburaj as a deft cook with oodles of humour.
From food and love, Abu moved towards exploitation and revenge in 22 Female Kottayam, released last year. Rima Kallingal lent vulnerability and steel to her nurse Tessa role. This was a movie that remained true to its heroine without being judgemental.
With Da Thadiya, Abu has once again pushed the envelope. The underlying breeziness in his scripts and dialogues may fall into a pattern but his plots have been daringly different. You cannot walk into a theatre screening an Abu film with any pre-set notions and that is a huge achievement for this 34-year old director. Abu with Blessy, Lal Jose, Anwar Rasheed, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Anjali Menon and Amal Neerad, are part of a new group of directors who offer hope of a better movie-watching experience for Malayalam movie buffs.