Film: Namboothiri Yuvavu @ 43
Cast: Maniyan Pilla Raju, Thanusree Raghuram, Suresh Menon, Tiny Tom, Nandu
Director: Mahesh Sharma
The 1980s and ‘90s saw Malayalam cinema giving much-deserved space to outstanding character actors. Many of them, such as Thilakan, Sankaradi, Oduvil Unnikrishnan, Meena, and Sukumari, no longer grace our screens. But, Maniyanpilla Raju, a worthy member of that golden generation of actors, is still going strong.
He is the hero of debutant scriptwriter-director Mahesh Sharma’s ‘Namboothiri Yuvavu @ 43.’ And he is playing the lead after nearly three decades (the underrated comedy ‘Akkare Ninnoru Maran’ in 1985 was the last).
He is Jayanthan, a temple priest desperate to get married. His impatience is understandable, for he is 43. But few women are willing, and he finally gets a bride from a Christian orphanage, and she is just 18. Thanusree Raghuram is making her debut in the role of Sanmaya.
Life is a not a bed of roses for the newly-wedded couple. To impress his wife, Jayanthan tries to become fashionable. He quits his job as a priest and becomes a medical representative, under an incorrigible Casanova (Shravan), whose only aim in life apparently is to wreck lives of married women.
There are Jayanthan’s friends, a minister (Jayan Cherthala), a fashion photographer (Tiny Tom), a Muslim priest (Nandu) and a doctor (Suresh Menon, in an awful wig). There is also the clichéd brother-in-law who is happy to be a parasite of his wife’s family (this is one character a Malayalam film about families and weddings cannot do without).
Since this is the age of new generation cinema, the director has to please the audience too (so there are funky song sequences and regular ‘beep’ sounds to silence expletives). He also attempts to create humour with background music.
Humour, however, lies not in music but in the script, in situations and dialogues. Save for a dialogue here or there, you would not find many things funny.
The saving grace is Raju. He has done a good job; it is not easy to be convincing in an unconvincing film. He reminds us that when it comes to acting talent, Malayalam cinema is unlikely to face crisis.
For a debutant, Mahesh fares reasonably well in the making of the film, and he might do better in the future, with a better script.