In an opening credits sequence, reminiscent of old stage drama announcements, Kanakam Kamini Kalaham makes a clear declaration of its intent, that it does not take itself too seriously. It is always a delight when a filmmaker does that, letting the material take its course, freely flowing in all directions. But, it can be quite a train-wreck when things go off course — as it happens in the latter half of this film — after what is an exciting set-up initially.
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Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval, in his second film after the delightful Android Kunjappan , structures the narrative here around a piece of missing jewellery, just like in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum . But that’s where the similarities between both films end. Pavithran (Nivin Pauly), a junior artiste who is running an acting school with two students, and his wife Haripriya (Grace Antony), a former actress in television serials, are having a hard time in their personal lives. They decide to take a trip to sort things out, but it turns out to be a bad idea, for the hotel they are staying in is more dysfunctional than their family.
- Director: Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval
- Cast: Nivin Pauly, Grace Antony, Vinay Forrt
The missing jewellery, a gold-plated one at that, becomes a symbol for a marriage that is falling apart and an outlet for the disappointments in the personal and professional lives of the couple, and for the anger of the over-worked and under-paid hotel employees. The hotel lobby, where the entire set of the ensemble cast comes together, is a scene of riotous humour. From the hotel manager constantly pestered by his girlfriend, to a writer who is being lampooned by a drunk for the “errors” in his fiction, and a couple who are flustered by the “swans” on their bed, nothing is going right inside the hotel. There are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments in these parts.
But then, things start going downhill, with the same gags being repeated in different ways, giving one a sense of a filmmaker running out of ideas. Towards the end, even an attempt at sexual assault is treated in a humourous manner, signalling that the scriptwriter has completely lost it. Although there are several attempts to lampoon stereotypes, the script has an ugly stereotype of a character from a minority community, even though that character also gets some of the best comic scenes in the film.
Though the filmmaker bravely sticks with the intent to make a full-length comedy, with humour taken to absurd levels, the film only partly succeeds to be one. Though it strives to be a social satire, it fails to do what last year’s Paapam Cheyyathavar Kalleriyatte achieved in a similar fashion. All the unique set designs and the nods to films, including Stanley Kubrick’s hotel-room horror The Shining, are wasted in a film that ends up being a parody of itself.
Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar