What is it about? :: Rani Padmini tells the story of the journey of two women. Padmini (Manju Warrier) is the wife of Giri (Jinu Joseph) who had settled in North India many years ago. Even though her mother-in-law (Sajitha Madathil) is adamant that she shouldn’t work, her husband tells her to follow her heart, just like he races in mountain rallies against the wishes of his mother. She starts working as a physiotherapist much to the dismay of her mother-in-law who brings up a divorce notice to teach her a lesson when Giri goes for racing. Padmini decides to run away from home and find her husband. Meanwhile, Rani (Rima Kalingal) is facing a financial problem and a gang of criminals is also after her after she revealed their hiding location to the police. She runs away from home with enough problems on her trail.
How it goes on :: Soon, Rani and Padmini will get their roads to converge, as they meet up in a bus, and decide to continue their journey together. Even though they have their differences, they manage to get along well. As her mother-in-law arranges for the police to bring her back, Giri gets into tough competition with a veteran racer who is determined to win it this time. The two ladies get through the problems on the road by using the best of their abilities and also by luck; sometimes being helped by people on the road including journalists, trekkers and even local men and women. With this one interesting journey, there will be the realization of some truths, not only for the two protagonists, but also for the people who are connected to them in one way or the other. A lot of things are sure to change in their lives.
The defence of Rani Padmini :: There is a wonderful working combination in Rani Padmini. It is not just related to the two leading ladies who take this experience to another level, but also about how this movie combines its feel-good factor, messages, funny side and beautiful sceneries together to bring some awesomeness on the screen. The advantage here is that it is applicable to not just a category of people, but for everyone. The humour in this movie is really good, and it makes the presence felt regularly. Unlike what the trailer seemed to suggest, the movie is light-hearted, and there is not much of a dark side to it. The visuals are nothing less than amazing, and it provides the viewer with the desire to travel to those locations far away. The background music adds to the positives, and the songs also have something for the heart and the soul. You will also love the way in which the message takes a path which asserts freedom rather than labels.
Claws of flaw :: Rani Padmini doesn’t bring a lot to the story as the focus is on the idea and what is brought to the viewers on the screen. There could have been many other ways through which this movie had the ability to progress better. Some people might feel slight drag, but it is more dependent on how you see and how you think, that much freedom is provided by Rani Padmini to the viewers. It is also not the usual entertainer, even though it entertains with its moments. The idea could have also been better brought to the audience. It seems that due to the negative opinions from critics and the audience alike for his previous movie that Aashiq Abu decided not to publicize this one like Gangster which almost everyone considers as his worst movie ever. The initial rush might be less for this movie due to the same reason, but it will pick up and is here to stay in the theatres.
Performers of the soul :: The movie is completely dependent on the lady characters who lead the way. The two leading ladies have done an amazing job here, absorbing the soul of the characters into themselves. They are very good together, and makes a perfect team. We have seen Rima Kallingal only once since 2013, with the spoof movie, Chirakodinja Kinavukal this year. This flick is a perfect example of why she needs to be there on screen more. She provides a highly memorable performance as the rebellious young lady who wishes to prove herself to her mother. She excels in the comic side like never before, and got some of the funniest moments in the movie. People can talk about having other actresses in the same role, but not like this, and not in the way Rima has done; for this is special.
Further performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier’s second run is only two movies old, with How Old Are You in 2014 and Ennum Eppozhum in 2015. But here, she has her best performance in her second innings, and this is also the best movie in her second entry. The family audience will love her a lot in this avatar, and others will also love this performance as she has a balanced character providing different levels of experience. She handles both the emotional and comic scenes with fine skill. You should look out for the story which she tells her friend and her interest in a flower and a soap. While Rima excels in showing her anger and frustration in a funny way, she scores with the humour in nostalgia, concerns and affection. Jinu Joseph does a good job even with smaller screen presence, and Sajitha Madathil remains solid as usual.
How it finishes :: Here is a movie which keeps saying that Aashiq Abu is back. He has taken the risk once again, and remembering how the audience reacted to Gangster, this one surely needed the confidence – he scores due to the same, big time. Rani Padmini‘s advantage over other movies is that it doesn’t preach, and what the two leading women characters in the movie manage is to finally become the individuals whom they are and those personalities whom they wish to be. It is a case of embracing the truth and one’s abilities, as they make the others around understand the same. You can ask if Rani Padmini is How Old Are You or Queen, and I will reply that it is better than them both. I actually consider this one Aashiq Abu’s best work ever, the first one which goes directly into the soul rather than towards the brain or the heart.
Release date: 23rd October 2015
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Manju Warrier, Rima Kallingal, Jinu Joseph, Praveen Jain, Sajitha Madathil, Sreenath Bhasi, Sana Althaf, Srinda Ashab, Soubin Shahir, Kunchan, Ambika Mohan, Dileesh Pothan, Binu Pappu, Rajitha Madhu, Hareesh Khanna
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.