Malayalee From India Movie Review: An unsubtle and preachy melodrama

Malayalee From India Movie Review: An unsubtle and preachy melodrama

A middling film replete with topics about Hindu-Muslim tensions, biting off more than it can chew, while sermonizing the audience like there is no tomorrow
Malayalee From India(2 / 5)

During festivals like Vishu or Eid, as a Malayalee, it is common to encounter photoshoots seemingly promoting unity in diversity, especially emphasizing Hindu-Muslim harmony. Malayalee From India is an overblown cinematic equivalent of such kind of content you casually swipe past on your mobile screens, owing to its insincerity.

Cast: Nivin Pauly, Dhyan Sreenivasan, Anaswara Rajan, Manju Pillai
Director: Dijo Jose Antony

Aalpparambil Gopi (Nivin Pauly) and Malghosh (Dhyan Sreenivasan) are freeloaders who support the right-wing party currently in power. Gopi is a blind sympathizer who blindly defends his party leader's communal and xenophobic rhetoric, while Malghosh is a volatile loafer filled with bigotry in his mind. This makes way for some satirical and chucklesome jabs in the film's opening scenes. Gopi's mother (Manju Pillai) is the one trying to make ends meet in her household, which comprises her son and daughter. Manju Pillai, as evident from her recent performances, is once again in her element, skillfully portraying the anguishes of her character. In this first hour, we are also introduced to Krishna (Anaswara Rajan), Gopi's one-sided love interest or his muse for exhibiting his stalking skills. One can only wonder about the relevance of this pointless track, which oozes anything but romance, in the overall scheme of the story. It only serves to prolong an already overlong narrative.

The film makes a tonal shift when Malghosh is triggered enough to do something nasty, creating a rift between Hindus and Muslims that forces him and Gopi to go into hiding. The prevailing tensions force Gopi to move abroad, a prospect that he always loathed, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, just before the lockdowns. The beginning of the latter half sees Gopi trying hard to adapt to a completely new landscape somewhere in the Middle East with only one grumpy superior to take orders from, who happens to be Pakistani. In some of the following portions, Nivin gets to effectively showcase his penchant for comedy, even if it feels like a spoof on Aadujeevitham, as it is set on an agricultural farm in the middle of a desert. Gopi hates working under a Pakistani initially, and predictably enough, as part of his coming of age, they both form a special bond.

The major issue of the film is unarguably the preachy monologues that bombard you one after the other. Of course, subtlety has never been a strong suit for director Dijo Jose Antony and writer Sharis Mohammed, who previously collaborated on Queen (2018) and Jana Gana Mana (2022). Unlike their previous successful films, which were mediocre as a whole, Malayalee From India also lacks the kind of gut punches or theatrically charged moments that can cleverly manipulate the audience. The only moment that comes close to achieving this is when Shine Tom Chacko delivers a rousing cameo. Instead, we get a middling film replete with topics about Hindu-Muslim tensions, biting off more than it can chew, while sermonizing the audience and stating the obvious as if there is no tomorrow. It even takes cues from Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), only to end with another melodramatic monologue about chasing dreams by a Pakistani teen, extolling the virtues of the people from God's own country, with Gopi as her role model.

As the film draws to a close, viewers may find themselves puzzled about its overarching message. The film initially delves into Kerala's communal politics, but even after emphasizing the futility of hatred, Gopi's stance on the outfits propagating hate remains uncertain. Malayalee From India ends up as another testament to the fact that storytelling requires more than just good intentions.

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