June Review: An endearing coming-of-age drama
This female-centric film, with a contemporary flavour, hits the right chords
June opens with a familiar image: a young woman, June (Rajisha Vijayan), takes a solo trip to supposedly give her life a fresh start. It's easy to guess what prompted her to take this journey, and soon enough, episodic flashbacks transport us to her high school days. The entire film, in fact, feels familiar, but the fresh treatment saves it from being another cliche nostalgia trip.
Friendship, romance, heartbreak, reunions, and weddings. This is what June is all about. It introduces us to a group of fun characters who bear resemblances to our former classmates -- we feel like hanging out with them. There is June's first crush and boyfriend, Noel (Sarjano Khalid) -- a slightly introverted kid yearning to be a filmmaker -- and then there is Anand (Arjun Ashokan), a stalker from a different school. After they enter adulthood, things turn a bit complicated because Noel's constant need to please his father irks the independent June. Anand goes through an interesting transformation in the second half, which brings a much-needed lightheartedness to the proceedings. After the recent Varathan, Arjun once again impresses with a vibrant performance. I also developed a particular fondness for the 'Asura' trio played by Sanju KS, Akhil Manoj, and Harisankar.
Director: Ahammed Khabir
Cast: Rajisha Vijayan, Sarjano Khalid, Arjun Ashokan
Joju George shines in the role of June's affable and protective father, who is more open-minded than her staunchly conservative mother (Ashwathi Menon). After June takes a discreet road trip with Noel, her mother makes her daughter swear on the bible, while her father forgives her immediately. He is so cool that he becomes responsible for June's beer-drinking habit.
It doesn't take very long before we are shifted to June's college days. But the film doesn't seem to be interested in exploring this segment much. A wise decision given the barrage of college films we have been bombarded with. Instead, it becomes the contemporary, female-centric, coming-of-age drama, that Malayalam cinema has been missing for quite a while.
Though June is the main character, the film doesn't ignore its background characters. Their interactions are heartwarming, and in their insecurities, fights, and regrets, you spot some of yours too. There is that friend who had dreamed of achieving bigger things, but opted for a safer alternative instead. And there is that person who used to be a loser in school, but is now enjoying an enviable status in society. As usual, Rajisha is very effective in the role, but aside from her different makeovers, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference between her 25-year-old and her 16-year-old selves. Perhaps she is one of those people who stays the same even after entering adulthood.
Aside from Rajisha Vijayan, Joju George, and Ashwathi Menon, the rest of the film is replete with an assorted bunch of newcomers whose antics keep you glued to the screen.
Despite the strong familiarity, June manages to strike a chord. Its intention is to leave you with a smile, and that it does, in spades. This is a film that knows which buttons to push and when.