I have to thank a really sweet girlfriend of mine who shared the link of the Malayalam movie, “Bangalore Days”. Yes, the very same one who actually recommended me to watch it in the first place. And ever since I’ve seen the movie, I have been recommending it to everyone I know, especially the non-Malayali ones.
And I don’t plan to stop there. So impressed was I with the current crop of immensely talented malayalam actors, directors, singers etc, that I am planning to stay abreast of the current movie scene in Kerala henceforth. It’s been ages, seems like a past life, since I watched a Malayalam movie. The last movie I watched was the Mohanlal-Shobhana starrer ‘Thenmavin Kombath’ in the 90’s.
I plan to catch up on some of the classics as well the latest ones. As far as I can remember, as young as a 3 yr old girl, Malayalam cinema has always been very naturalistic in element much like Hollywood. What you see is what you get. The locales, the characters, the storyline are very realistic and relatable. What is most striking to me is how far in depth they will go when etching different characters and exploring the complex layers in their relationships. It calls for a lot of observation, insight, reflection, intelligence and maturity from the writers, film-makers and the actors.
The period in which I watched a lot of Malayam movies were between the ages of 3-5 yrs during my time in the boarding school. Which is most of the movies made in the mid 80’s. Every weekend, Saturday to be precise, the boarders would be treated to a highly anticipated Malayalam movie played on a VCR. I remember being immensely intrigued and involved in the plot and happenings of “Kathodu Kathoram”, a Mammootty-Saritha movie. Quite an unusual choice for toddler/preschooler then. Maybe I could easily identify with the settings of the movie – the Christian atmosphere of church, priests, nuns and protagonists. I was surrounded by a similar setting while my time in the boarding school so the movie settings and it’s characters seemed very real to me at that point of time. Also, I was rooting and praying for the main leads to be victorious in their love despite the many unfortunate circumstances and endless ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ characters that they encountered. The movie is heavy and has a sad undertone while the protagonists remain cheerful and hopeful for a better tomorrow. I remember being their youngest cheerleader, hoping against hope for Mammootty and Saritha. I was literally hoping and waiting to see their wedding at the climax. Do they or don’t they? For that, you have to watch the movie. You would most probably catch me humming to the tunes of ‘Devadhootar Padi’ for days in that era of time. Another movie that I lapped up was the extremely fun and ‘whodunit’ genre Mohanlal-Mammootyy starrer ‘No.20 Madras Mail’. It is superfun to watch the clash of the two titans and compare which of the superstars is better. Mammootty or Mohanlal. You also get to join in, on a Sherlock Holmes style prowl to solve a highly mysterious murder. My favorites actors those days were the stylish Rahman and Nadia Moidu.
Back to ‘Bangalore Days’, the movie was extremely relatable. The Malayalam newbie actors reminded me of my brothers, cousins and just simply us, the new generation. The way we dress, behave, think etc. It had me sold just on that point. As the characters’ shape up and the plot unfolds, you’ll meet many such Toms, Dicks and Harrys along the way. People you meet and deal with regularly in your daily life. The movie is as clean as it can get in content which is refreshing in today’s times.
All the actors fit their characters as perfectly as a ‘hand in a glove’. They just blended seamlessly and effortlessly with their respective characters. Fahadh Fazil, has this natural aura of regalness coupled with the right dose of cockiness, that makes him perfect for the kind of husband he played in the movie. Nazriya Nazim aced her part in the ‘fresh out of college and straight into the marriage frying pan’ role. With that tender age on her side, she portrayed that innocence and naïveté that comes along with it beautifully. As her character builds up, so does her transformation into this strong, mature, dutiful and loving wife. Despite her age, she lended that maturity that comes with the transformation from a carefree college girl to a responsible ‘lady of the home’. Nazriya definitely has the potential to be a reigning superstar if she plans to comeback to movies post marriage. Nithya Menon makes a guest appearance but honestly, I felt they could have casted someone more suitable for that brief role. Someone more edgier like Andrea Jeremiah perhaps! That would be one classic ‘real life takes on reel life’ situation. Superstar Mammootty’s son Dulquer Salmaan simply reminded me of one of my twin brothers. The strong similarities didn’t just end in looks but also in the body language, mannerisms and attitude. This guy plays the coolest character in the movie. Totally chilled out, enjoying life and doing his own damn thing without a care in the world for what it thinks. And it doesn’t hurt, that he has a heart of gold and a funny bone or two as well. Nivin Pauly is decent in his part as the ‘Mr:Goody two shoes’ simpleton and village bumpkin who gets a culture shock in the big bad city of Bangalore. There are a couple of funny moments pertaining around his character, including some with his mother. Parvathy as RJ Sarah comes like a ray of sunshine. Flashing her million dollar smile and sporting a benevolent attitude, she captures yours and Dulquer’s heart in particular with élan.
While the actors have gotten more stylish with a swag and all, the style of film-making and story-telling still remain very true to it’s Malayalam roots. Keeping it real, sweet and simple like it always has been. Naturally and beautifully lush in content, just like itself – the gorgeously green God’s own country as they call it!
It’s a breeze following the movie when you have English subtitles. Try finding one and you sure aren’t going to regret having done so. Enjoy!