Now we know why this is the best film of the 2015 Onam release lot, and to win, even by a small margin, when competing with bigwigs like Utopiayile Rajavu (2015), Double Barrel (2015), and Loham (2015) is a remarkable feat.
A seamless, humor-filled montage introduces us to first, the folks, and then the quirky characters, of a fictitious village where the story is based, meanwhile satisfying us by informing who the "hero" of the film is, as it knows how obsessed we are with "him."
The brilliant prologue speaks about Kunjiraman (Sreenivasan Jr. I), a jinxed love enthusiast who is eager to get spliced but is unable to do so. The story primarily is about his journey from one bride to another as the eccentric and idiotic actions of his fellow villagers wreak havoc in his varied, fashionable attempts. He travels to the Gulf in order to gain respect, and to pave way to the petty challenge that his mother has given out to her brother as to whose child will marry first.
That a man's success is measured by his belly size, the amount of insanity and emotions shown by alcoholics when it comes to the hard stuff, and that this hard stuff is more valuable than one's blood are main highlights of the first half as the story diverts. The psychology related to alcohol consumption, specially in Kerala, is highly focused on, maybe to entice such people, but other than the greatly timed jokes, it doesn't hold much traction.
The story regains semblance when our little, pot-bellied protagonist returns from the Gulf and goes back and returns and goes back as all his attempts at marriage go south. Even though there is no reduction in the sporadic humor, the dull state of events does make its audience restless. However, if one observes the niceties and the brilliant camera work, it won't be quite a bore.
The creativity involved in the film is subtle yet amazing. Why else would you think, for example, when Kunjiraman returns from the Gulf and yanks opens his suitcase to distribute his offerings to the villagers and they empty it save for one little toy that plays Hisham Abbas's hit song "Nari Narain?" Because "Nari" is a cuss word in Malayalam. Simply brilliant.
Sreenivasan Jr. I steals the limelight with his strong performance. Varghese is great as always and so is Sreenivasan Jr. II, who for some reason is not as wooden like in his debut (Thira, circa 2013). The supporting cast do a great job. I should also praise the director for paying attention to the details and pushing the stars to their core competence.
Powerful cameos by famous personalities gives a good closure, but if one narrows the whole 2-hour plus drama, it feels like one long wedding with the only problem in the final feast of which some dishes taste too salty and some aren't even. And how do you judge a wedding reception? Of course, from the sadhya.
BOTTOM LINE: Kunjiramayanam is a fun-filled odyssey that has weddings, rivers of liquor, romance, and general madness with the only shortcomings being the number of people participating in it and their unfilled stories.
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES
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