Any film starring Fahadh Faasil is a treat for his fans, your truly included. His cinema may not be easy to slot. But that is the name of this actor’s game. Unpredictability and an emphatic aversion to repetition.
Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum in Malayalam directed by Akhil Sathyan, is unlike anything Fahadh has done…or for that matter anything that any actor has done in any language. The quirkiness of Sathyan’s screenplay is almost obsessive. The writing coils and recoils into unfathomable shapes.
Some of it falls flat;for example, the girl in Goa Hamsadhwani (Anjana Jayaprakash) with whom Prashanth has…ummm… this thing,lets him sleep over in her home.
The first thing single working girls learn on singlehood is to keep strangers out of their home. During dangerous the sleepover, there is a strained underwear joke which seems even more thrust-upon.
There are several such anomalistic interventions which luckily do not hamper the free flow of energetic eccentricity . In the beginning the quirky plotting is somewhat difficult to digest, and also I felt the message of child labour and education for the girl child is hammered in too emphatically.
However much of the constant physical movement—we can call this a perky picaresque adventure—is charming and contagious. There is a sequence at the outset where Prashanth goes with his father and father’s matchmaking friend on a family car that is as wacky as the screenplay, to meet a prospective bride. Over the course of lunch a fish bone gets stuck in Prashanth’s throat. To compound the disaster, the prospective bride already has a boyfriend.
The interweaving of one episode into another is not smooth: it is not meant to be. Writer-director Akhil Sathyan purposely erases the edges of the screenplay and avoids punctuation marks in the storytelling.\
Preferring a free-flowing narrative over a formally structured one, Sathyan gives us one of the most original and interesting drama in recent times. It is hard to find a centre to the plot. But if you insist, there is the education of a househelps’s daughter Nidhi(Dhwani Rajesh) which becomes a matter of life and debt(and I do mean debt) for the resolute matriarch Ummach(played with an easy confidence by Viji Venkatesh ,who is a healthcare expert with no experience in acting).
Prashanth helps Ummachi rescue Nidhi from her selfserving family. By the time Prashanth battles it out with the baddies on the streets of a Goan village, Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum has moved far away from its original plot of an Ayurveda pharmacist from Kerala in Mumbai struggling with Hindi and other issues.
I am not too sure that the journey from Mumbai to Goa is completely workable. But it sure as hell packs in a punch. Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum is like a commodious suitcase packed with luggage, not all of which makes sense.
Why is the little boy Ashwin(Avyukth Menon) accompanying Prashant and Ummachi in their rescue operation? The answers ar not always easily obtainable. But the questions are always interesting even when everything doesn’t fit in.