Review Reviews

Malli Raava: So near, yet so far

 Sumanth and Aakanksha in the film

Sumanth and Aakanksha in the film

In the opening and defining episode of Malli Raava , Karthik (Sumanth), his friend nicknamed ‘Dumbo’ (Abhinav) and his parents are at the registrar office. Karthik has already called Anjali (Aakanksha) a few times. She arrives, dressed in a silk sari; he’s relieved. Then she speaks up. She isn’t interested in the marriage.

His parents are disappointed and angry. Karthik is shattered but doesn’t show it. He’s quit his job with plans of joining her in the US after the wedding. But he doesn’t ask Anjali for an explanation. He respects her choice, swallows his rejection.

Writer-director Gowtam Tinnanuri seems to have internalised Kahlil Gibran’s oft-quoted statement: ‘If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t they never were’.

The story moves back and forth, from the present to 1999, when Karthik and Anjali, aged 14, met in school in Rajole, and to 2012, when Anjali, as project manager from the US, meets Karthik and Dumbo after 13 long years. It’s part nostalgia trip, relying heavily on the first flush of love, and part coming-of-age romance of characters facing an unsteady future.

The school portions are endearing, without making adolescent love look cheesy. This chapter also reveal what makes Anjali cautious and even fickle in the later years. The bond between her parents is anything but pleasant — they are better off without each other. The fall out of their bitter marriage is a daughter with permanent scars.

We get to know of these scars and her hope for good tidings much later. The narrative takes its own time to go beyond scratching the surface. It’s the kind of filmmaking that’s earnest but doesn’t keep you hooked all through. Those bland office jokes don’t help either. The silver lining is Shravan Bharadwaj’s refreshing music.

However, Gowtam impresses in the way he contrasts Karthik and Anjali. Karthik is at ease failing in exams while she cries for missing the top rank. He lands a job thanks to his hard-working friend and doesn’t care about progress at work. Anjali is miles ahead. When Anjali’s mother lays bare his inefficiencies and asks Karthik if he’d be content piggybacking on someone all the time, it’s harsh but stems from being practical.

Karthik’s evolution happens slowly but surely, as Dumbo’s grandmother (Annapurna) points out in a moving sequence. Sumanth gives Karthik’s character the necessary gravitas. It’s impossible to read into his expressions to know how hurt he is or what his dreams are. But towards the end, when he speaks his mind, it’s mature and pragmatic. Aakanksha is effective in her part and her expressive eyes do the talking. Quietly making an impression is Abhinav as the friend, sounding board and the only one who can knock some sense into the lead pair.

If only Malli Raava had been more interesting, it wouldn’t have ended up as a reminder of Yeto Vellipoyindhi Manasu which addressed issues of growing up, decisions and romance across decades more effectively.

Malli Raava

Cast: Sumanth, Aakanksha Singh

Direction : Gowtam Tinnanuri

Music : Shravan Bharadwaj


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Printable version | Feb 14, 2022 2:03:18 am | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/malli-raava-is-part-nostalgia-trip-part-coming-of-age-romance/article21303862.ece