Vampire Owl: Are we going to have more of feel-good?
Vampire Bat: I am expecting the same with a better touch of humour.
Vampire Owl: Feel-good often destroys the possible humour.
Vampire Bat: There is still something called feel-good humour.
Vampire Owl: It is because there is nothing like feel-bad humour.
Vampire Bat: We can always feel bad with the humour.
Vampire Owl: Well, there can always be exceptions of all kinds.
Vampire Bat: But we are always expecting more and more.
Vampire Owl: We keep having the problem of awakened expectations.
Vampire Bat: Expectations do not begin or end with immortality, or work towards infinity.
[Gets a paneer samosa and three cups of iced tea].
What is the movie about? :: A series of interconnected events happen related to arranged marriages in a remote village somewhere in the district of Kannur in the north of Kerala. Among the simple people of the village, Pavithran (Suraj Venjaramoodu) is a chronic bachelor who is desperately trying to get married, as if it delays anymore, he would not be able to be in a wedding alliance for even a longer time period according to his horoscope. He is only recently rejected by a young lady whom he sees as part of a proposed alliance from their families, Sujina (Tanvi Ram). But she calls him back on another day to meet in private. He has a certain amount of infatuation for this particular lady whom he finds to be the most beautiful among the women whom he had seen for the purpose of marriage. She tells him that she wishes to marry him as she knows that he is a good person. But she adds that she wants him to get the arranged marriage of her younger sister cancelled in one way or the other; otherwise, Sujina will be forced to marry immediately before her younger sister is to be married. Her younger sister Chandrika (Niranjana Anoop) is also not willing to get married.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Pavithran is infatuated by the beauty and words of Sujina, and is determined to stop the marriage of Chandrika from occurring at any cost. At the same time, Abhi (Saiju Kurup) has been in love with Chandrika since his schooldays, and wishes to break this marriage alliance a long time before the date of wedding. He even has her name tattooed permanently on his upper arm. It turns out that the person whom Chandrika is going to marry is Bibeesh (Abhiram Radhakrishnan), and they have been keeping this upcoming wedding as a secret because Sujina is not married yet. Kiran (Basil Joseph) decides to help Abhi to win his love, as he is interested in scriptwriting and direction – he would write some twists for his good friend. The plan which begins with the use of a stranger named Shambu (Maniyanpilla Raju) to spread rumours becomes a failure, but they come up with other ideas. At the same time, Pavithran has other plans to stop the marriage, but it would require more. The question remains about what awaits Sujina and Chandrika in relation to their weddings and future lives.
The defence of Enkilum Chandrike :: This is the kind of a movie that has the side of humour which makes us smile rather than laugh, as the comedy itself has something more than the usual. It takes the simple things in life, makes it bigger, and has us feeling the impact. There is also the beauty of the visuals of this particular village that adds to the charm, as we are never away from the charming nature that lies with a rural area that is caught in camera. It is with the beauty of nature that Tanvi Ram also steals the show as the village beauty who provides the words of wisdom to Suraj Venjaramoodu, the man who holds the movie together. Along with the cuteness of the village that Tanvi provides, and is supported by Niranjana, the performances are to be remembered for the lovable nature of them. Along with the humour, there are the fine emotions which runs through as this becomes a feel-good on the lines of films like Thattathin Marayathu which have multiple elements of feeling better including humour and romance which run parallel to one another. The climax with feel-good twists does leaves one satisfied as there is the goodness factor working well out there too, with the fine slang.
The claws of flaw :: Enkilum Chandrike doesn’t try that hard with the material that it possesses, and it often feels like a restriction. It often makes something bigger from the simple elements, sometimes more than what is needed. It could have focused on speeding up things too, as we do feel that it losses the focus at times. The movie could have also become a Kunjiramayanam with the humour in the village, but that much of a strength is not there in the funny side. The movie does not try to push the comedy or the emotions too hard, as it just moves forward with the available strengths. One would feel that the female characters played by Tanvi Ram and Niranjana Anoop would have more to do, like the former talks about regarding their lives – Tanvi should have surely had a full song, something which could have stayed with us for long. Despite the movie being about the titular character, it is Tanvi’s charm from the beginning that started the series of events of relevance. It is a movie about two women who surprisingly have so less screen space. There are moments which could have elevated all of these too.
The performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu leads the way once again, as there is something serene about his character here and the way he plays it. We feel the seriousness here as much as the humorous side that lies in waiting. This is also the one character for whom the audience will feel throughout the movie’s run-time. Basil Joseph also runs through his strengths in the movie, and we know his capabilities with comedy as he has displayed earlier too. Saiju Kurup also runs in strong with the comic side, which is given the boost with some of his fine mannerisms, as he has done so well in earlier films. Niranjana Anoop is the female lead, and the lady of concern for which everything happens around here, but Tanvi Ram has all the dialogues and moments which have our attention. With some different looks, she has effectively transformed into this role in multiple ways. She has all the points to be noted down from her words, and blends into the character in a lovely manner. With this work, even though with smaller screen space, we can be sure that she is indeed capable of playing those bigger roles in much bigger movies consistently. Neeraj Madhav’s cameo nicely works by the end of the movie, and Maniyanpilla Raju does a similar thing twice in the movie.
How it finishes :: Enkilum Chandrike might be a lesser known film on the long list of movies which released during the same time period. But it has a much bigger soul within, staying close to the life of the commoners from a cute little village. When you have Suraj Venjaramoodu around playing both a funny and serious work together, you know that much can be expected. Then you never doubt the capabilities of Basil Joseph to make it funnier. And you also realize that Tanvi Ram is an underrated actress who can work wonders even with the divergent roles provided to her. This is another movie which comes from Vijay Babu and right out of Friday Film House like those much memorable Adi Kapyare Kootamani, June, Aadu, Philips and the Monkey Pen and Home, and we remember that these are the type of cinema which catch our attention in one way or the other, despite not having that much of hype or the boost of superstars. Enkilum Chandrike nicely uses its strengths to its advantage, and it is how it rises above the other movies which deal with the same situations – you see the scope to improve, but you also see how well it has managed its resources to create something so simple, yet so enjoyable with its core unlike films like Romancham which often depends on silly and not so clean humour.
Release date: 1st April 2023 (Manorama MAX); 17th February 2023 (Theatre)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Adithyan Chadrashekar
Starring: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Basil Joseph, Saiju Kurup, Niranjana Anoop, Aswin Vijayan, Tanvi Ram, Rajesh Sharma, Abhiram Radhakrishnan, Maniyanpilla Raju, Unni Raja, Neeraj Madhav (cameo)
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✠ The Vampire Bat.