‘Pranaya Vilasam’ movie review: juggling time frames to shape up a pleasant take on lost love and understanding in relationships

The slightly misleading trailer works in favour of the movie as it explores the subject with ease while keeping its subtlety intact

February 25, 2023 06:11 pm | Updated February 26, 2023 12:28 am IST

A still rom the movie ‘Pranaya Vilasam’

A still rom the movie ‘Pranaya Vilasam’

The movie’s title does not flash across the screen until the halfway point. The name-board of a house where the principal characters live morphs into that title, marking a moment of revelation about a character and breaking everyone’s assumption of that person till that point. Even the movie’s trailer is an attempt at tricking us into assuming it to be a very different kind of film than it actually is.

The gang of Anaswara Rajan, Arjun Ashokan, and Mamitha Baiju, whom we saw recently in the campus film Super Sharanya, comes together again but the campus stories set in two different time periods are only a part of the story.

At the heart of Nikhil Murali’s debut film is a family where the three members hardly understand each other. Rajeevan (Manoj K.U.), the father, a tough-on-the-exterior village officer as well as the son Suraj (Arjun Ashokan) are lost in their own worlds and do not have much time to spare for the mother Anusree, who is immersed in household chores. Suraj and Rajeevan are also not on talking terms, with the son nursing the hurt of being prevented from pursuing his dream of becoming a musician.

Pranaya Vilasam (Malayalam)
Director: Nikhil Muraly
Cast: Arjun Ashokan, Anaswara Rajan, Mamitha Baiju,
Runtime: 123 minutes
Synopsis: Love stories of different characters who are at different stages of their lives.

An unexpected jolt leads to the father and son taking a road trip together, in a journey to the past that forms the movie’s backbone. It is a journey for them to realise the worth of the woman, whom they did not pay enough attention to. The script is uneven when it travels between the time periods, just like Shaan Rahman’s background score, which is very much in the present yet almost overbearing in the past.

But the best written parts are the exchanges between the father and the son, which range from outright funny to poignant. It is perhaps rivalled only by the short but memorable role that Hakkim Shah gets. In the time that he has on screen, he gets to play a brash youth and a middle-aged man, whose face is a calm ocean of suppressed emotions and life-long pain. Manoj K.U., who aced the role as the father in Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam, plays a father of a different kind here and betters his previous performance.

The love story in the past, as well as the relationship between Suraj and his girlfriend, are somewhat hastily written. Yet, the movie still manages to portray the pain and nostalgia of lost love through its other better-written parts. The scriptwriters have been careful to never let things get too serious or emotional moments linger too long, always breaking it with some humour. To their credit, it hardly ever appears jarring. The background of political violence that is brought into the story seems more like an addition, which was made considering the fact that it was taking place in Kannur.

In the end, the slightly misleading trailers appear to have worked in Pranaya Vilasam’s favour, surprising the audience a bit with a fairly entertaining take on lost love and the need for understanding in relationships.

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