This is the story of Mathan and Appu, lovers and ex-lovers at the same time. It is about their love and how it defines their lives.
Directed and co-produced by Aashiq Abu, written by Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair based on a story by Amal Neerad, Mayaanadhi starring Tovino Thomas and Aishwarya Lekshmi in the lead have all the right names associated with it to have hopes ride high. And, as a Christmas release this year Mayaanadhi is up for some sound competition.
This is the story of Mathan and Appu, lovers and ex-lovers at the same time. It is about their love and how it defines their lives. Mathan, a small-time crook gets himself in trouble in one of his assignments. While he needs to make an escape he wants to make amends with his estranged lover, Appu, who is a struggling model-actress. Tovino as Mathan is charming with his boyish naivety. He is a relentless romantic who yearns for love. Starting from his cap, a habit Appu puts in him, to his favorite drink, Boost, are all integral parts of their memories together.
Mayaanadhi is more about the experience of watching a movie than the story in itself. It is about the beauty with which Aashiq Abu chooses to narrate their story, and how their life unfolds. Aishwarya Lekshmi nails the part of a struggling model-anchor-actor with perfection. A practical and yet romantic, Aiswarya Lekshmi is convincing as Appu. The ease with which she gets into the character lends promise.
Leona Lishoy and Darshana play Appu’s friends who add a much needed dimension to her character. It is indeed a refreshing relief to see a story being told from all sides of the lead characters. Leona Lishoy as the over-night star Sameera, also makes a social comment on the lives of actresses in cinema. Speaking of social comment, the cinema also makes a reference to ‘OMKV’, an abbreviation made popular by Parvathy Menon’s response tweet to Jude Anthany Joseph’s facebook post on “circus monkeys”. Whether the reference is a deliberate one or not is as good a guess as anyone’s.
The film champions minimalism to a perfection. Makeup is barely there. Thanks to Sameera Saneesh, the costumes are mostly played down. They are almost always in neutral tones. Even when they need to be flashy they don’t distract you from the narrative, nor stand out.
Even the music department vouches on minimalism. There are hardly any traces of a background score, even when there is, it blends in beautifully. The songs are essential parts of the narrative and Rex Vijayan perfectly ties in the songs letting us soak up the story through his music. Mayaanadhi tells the entire story in a grey-blue or pale tone. The frames are dark and foggy, indicative of the mood of the story.
This is a fine example of good writing. It goes on to show that living, breathing characters as neatly fleshed out as these are real enough to engage for as long as there is a story. Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair deserve all the accolades that may come their way. Together with Aashiq Abu’s cinematic brilliance they’ve weaved in some of the finest romantic sequences witnessed by the new wave of Malayalam cinema. Mayaanadhi is romantic without being the least bit cheesy, and that is no small feat! And yet, make no mistake; while it is intense and real, it isn’t an earth-shattering romance that will keep haunting you. The story doesn’t shake or at the best even move you. But it will sure shift the dust off the romantic in you.