5 Sundarikal which can be translated as 5 Beauties, is that romantic anthology film which might have had its existence to thank the 2009 anthology movie Kerala Cafe. There were ten stories in that one and here it is cut to half with five, and only Anwar Rasheed doing a story in both the anthologies. The Vampire Bat would not agree to the title though, as it would be left to him to say which one is the beauty and which one is the beast. The only suitable title would have been 5 Females, and fighting with three other movies which has interested the crowds, even the name of a movie has to add to the total interest generated. Even in my case, this is the first time I get a Malayalam movie with a Malayalam name to review, and the “5” is to be read as Malayalam “anchu” and not “five” as far as I know. Watching stupidity like Raanjhanaa is clearly out of the equation and this movie having five stories instead of one increases the probability of getting at least two good ones; so there is no doubt which Indian movie one is supposed to go this week. There is the power of five compared to the power of six in ASK a.k.a Aaru Sundarimaarude Katha, and the obsession with beauties continue, this time with more success, and one beauty judged less is always the truth gained further. Whether it should be “sundarikal” or “sundarimaar” is a question to be asked to satisfy the quest to find grammatical errors, and I would go with the former.
✠ Sethulakshmi: directed by Shyju Khalid :: [59/100] :: No, there isn’t going to be a total score based on the average of these stories, as that should annihilate the purpose of this movie as an anthology as well as this review as a subjective reality. There would be separate worlds for each story and for the movie, there would be another reality of totality, to which this simple story adds on first coming as an adaptation of M. Mukundan’s short story, Photo. The story of two school kids is shown in its own natural innocence until their world-changing event happens. The simplicity turns itself into the tough theme which the story has to deal with, and that is the place and may be where it scores. There is the depth of evil portrayed in a way that will haunt one with innocence. But the question remains if this belongs to this movie, as the presence of a beauty or even pseudo-beauty here itself negates the need for this story in the movie and all the purpose it would have served, and however one tries to look at this, a more deserving platform for this one would have been Kerala Cafe, and might have been the second best story in that movie after Anjali Menon’s Happy Journey. It is kind of misplaced here, and this might have been added here to arouse the curiosity of the viewers as well as to create that new generation element – otherwise this among the other stories is like Roger Federer guarding the goal post for the Spanish national football team.
✠ Isha: directed by Sameer Thahir :: [79/100] :: Along with the former one, this story also has the scope of becoming a one and half to two hours of good cinema. It stars Nivin Pauly as the thief a.k.a the Santa, and Isha Sharvani who makes her debut as the beauty of this segment, and undoubtedly the smartest and the most charming of them all. They start off as two strangers and with many things in common, and the question would be what they end up to be, and that is the surprise, that twist of plot which raises the story from its existence just inches about the average level. Nivin Pauly has remained similar to what we saw in Thattathin Marayathu, as this time he has another Isha, Isha Sharvani instead of Isha Talwar, another lady from the North, and this female lead does a lot more than the other one did. This story and what is to follow are the only two segments which are actually centered on the beauties, and this is the only segment in which the beauty is in control and remains so throughout most of the story. One has to say that this one has the best of the lighter moments too, and the claps which came after this segment are well deserved. The whole story is centered on the two leading characters, and there we see the most beautiful lady and the one romantic hero; they make this work like nobody else could have.
✠ Gouri: directed by Aashiq Abu :: [10/100] :: This is the weak link in the whole movie, and without this, the movie could have been declared the best anthology in Malayalam movie industry ever. This is Aashiq Abu’s worst so far, and from what we have seen of him already, it might remain his worst. Biju Menon is there as the husband with nothing to do that really matters to the story. Tini Tom and Rimi Tomy makes an unnecessary visit, as Kavya Madhavan who plays the wife expresses her need to have a kid. Kavya is there as if she is to be that strange character who is more unsure about herself and the world around her than Popeye without his spinach. Jayasurya also makes a small appearance thus making this one the most powerful segment in terms of celebrity power, but in performance, it is a dynamite of the next generation which failed to blow. This is a painfuel half an hour of torture, which could have been avoided or may be replaced. It is surprising that it came from the same director who gave us Da Thadiya in the same year. This might even make Estragon and Vladimir say that there is something to be done – sorry, Samuel Beckett. Kammath and Kammath and Lokpaal were not that bad now, as you go through this one. This story in the middle shows us the middle finger, but fortunately it was preceded and followed by brilliant segments.
✠ Kullante Bharya: directed by Amal Neerad :: [84/100] :: This is the moment which strikes you hard. Amal Neerad has come up with a story which is narrated by Dulquer Salmaan who sees everything from the top floor of a group of apartments. The awesome presentation and the story’s ability to relate with the contemporary society of Kerala, and may be even India as a whole, has helped this one to get the most claps in the theatre, and remain the highlight of this five star experiment. Dulquer Salmaan has eased through this segment, and even as a person moving on wheelchair, there is so much of impact with every word he says. Reenu Mathews leaves an imprint without even a word said. The newcomer Jinu Ben brings tears to the audience with no direct revelation. The story also works as a satire on the self-proclaimed righteous, highly moral society which considers itself as the role-model, and has a lot of prejudice against the people whom they are not familiar with, and those who think or act different. If there has been so much interest in this story which has only one actor who has performed in a leading role in more than one movie, it shows how much impact this one has created, and how much it could relate with its audience.
✠ Aami: by Anwar Rasheed :: [61/100] :: This might be the most awaited story of the movie, with a businessman, Ajmal (Fahadh Faasil), who travels from Malappuram to Kochi and vice versa. His too much affectionate wife who is known only by her nickname (Asmitha Sood) keeps asking tricky questions to him and leaves him puzzles to solve – a strange abnormal habit, to which anybody would agree. The night journey then transforms into something that changes his life. The presence of Honey Rose and Vinayakan just adds to powerful cast of this segment which is already the talking point due to Fahadh Faasil’s presence and his new looks. It is him who excells in this story, and everything else is a little let down. With meaningless puzzles and strange happenings, this is not something which the viewers can relate with, but thanks to the leading actor and some interesting dialogues, this one lets the movie with its head held high, not annihilating the world which was created by the second and the fourth segments. As Fahadh Faasil fights extreme anger, greed for money, violence and his own old relationships and gets back to his beloved, the whole thing ends happily. This is surely better than the highly predictable Bridge segment in Kerala Cafe by the same director.
The movie is that roller coaster ride of Final Destination 3, in which death tries to pull the movie down, as some of the stories lose charm, and suddenly a story comes up which changes the things around. It is the advantage of having five different stories directed by five different people, and this is well done, and it would live on as long as this theme doesn’t come up with a overdose, either with the stories or with the concept of pseudo-beauty. To be frank, there is nothing in this which binds this collection together, as same was the case with Kerala Cafe, and it doesn’t give that much of anything that Cloud Atlas gave its viewers. This movie uses the concept of enchanting viewers with its title and the trailer, and tries to undo the failure of Poppins which had its own wrecked set of anthologies in which only the story of Kunchako Boban and Nithya Menon made any impact, with Indrajith-Padmapriya and Jayasurya-Meghna stories staying there not without troubles. Still, the question remains, who is the beauty? If they were all eligible for the same title, won’t they be good enough for that word which comes as just the opposite? Why would we be forced to believe with that willing suspension of disbelief that they are all beautiful? Will Isha Sharvani and Kavya Madhavan look like beauties to two people who have different concepts of beauty? Even myself is clearly sceptical about the latter; but leave that for the intellectuals, and concentrate on the medium for now.
Release date: 20th June 2013
Running time: 145 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Amal Neerad, Anwar Rasheed, Sameer Thahir, Shyju Khaled, Aashiq Abu
Starring: Isha Sharvani, Asmitha Sood, Reenu Mathews, Honey Rose, Kavya Madhavan, Baby Anika, Nivin Pauly, Dulquer Salmaan, Biju Menon, Fahadh Faasil, Jayasurya, Master Chethan, Tini Tom, Rimi Tomy, Jinu Ben, Vinayakan
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.