Pavi Caretaker Movie Review: A jaded romantic comedy that came twenty years too late

Pavi Caretaker Movie Review: A jaded romantic comedy that came twenty years too late

For someone who previously directed Dear Friend, one of the best films of 2022, Pavi Caretaker is a serious downgrade for Vineeth Kumar as a filmmaker
Pavi Caretaker(1.5 / 5)

A couple of minutes into Pavi Caretaker, we find the film’s lead, Pavithran (Dileep) aka Pavi, struggling to tame his pet, which had turned unruly after seeing a female dog. Suddenly, a sly innuendo pops into his mind and he manages to get the beast under control. This is reminiscent of a scene from the 2003-hit CID Moosa. Later, in what seemed like a callback to Ee Parakkum Thalika (2001), there’s a ‘Tom and Jerry’ sequence involving Dileep and a palm civet.

Director: Vineeth Kumar
Cast: Dileep, Johny Antony, Radhika Sarathkumar, Dharmajan Bolgatty

These attempts, likely contorted to showcase the slapstick side of the actor, are not only lacklustre, but they also fall flat turning Pavi Caretaker into a jaded comedy that would only have been entertaining twenty years ago.

Pavithran embodies the quintessential characteristics of roles that Dileep had donned in his heydays. In the film, he serves as both caretaker and night security guard for an apartment complex in Kochi. His character is unmistakably nagging and narrow-minded and often meddles in the lives of others.

The first sixty minutes of the 2.5-hour-long film are dedicated to establishing his dynamics with the flat community. Each scene brings to the fore his pettiness in a misconstrued way to evoke laughter from the audience. But in vain. Strangely, his irritable nature lacks any explanation or foreshadowing in the film.

Also, Pavithran is portrayed as a lonely soul, akin to an involuntary celibate. His interactions with unfamiliar women are distinctly crotchety, yet, he remains a figure whom his female associates look up to.

It is quite ironic that in a film aiming to capitalise on Dileep's vintage repertoire, it is the parts lacking his go-to ‘buffoonery’ that has become Pavi Caretaker's saving grace. These segments mostly feature a romance, an odd cocktail of The Lunchbox (2013) and the actor's own Bodyguard (2010). The scenes that focus on Pavithran's bond with his pet dog, too, hold redeeming qualities.

However, even within these relatively tolerable passages, the illogical progression of the story becomes a spoilsport. Its elongated running time does not help either.

For someone who previously directed Dear Friend, one of the best films of 2022, Pavi Caretaker is a serious downgrade for Vineeth Kumar as a filmmaker. Many of its comedic stretches feel disjointed as if they were added as an additional track separate from the central narrative of the story: that of a lonely man finding an unlikely love in his middle age.

Numerous female characters pass by the protagonist, yet not a single one registers in the viewers' minds due to Rajesh Raghavan's superficial writing, which goes haywire towards the end. Among the supporting cast, only Johny Antony leaves a lasting impression. That said, it is unfortunate to witness him getting typecast regularly with characters exhibiting similar mannerisms.

Even though Malayalam cinema is currently experiencing an unprecedented purple patch, Dileep appears unwilling to adapt to changing sensibilities and tastes. He remains obsessively stuck in the era when his loud clown act was acceptable.

Pavi Caretaker could have been a reasonably entertaining romantic comedy had it focused more on its romance, spent less time glorifying the lead character's virtuousness, and fleshed out its female characters without reducing them to mere props in the protagonist's journey.

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