Mr and Ms Rowdy Review: An occasionally amusing screwball comedy
Jeethu Joseph traverses a light-hearted terrain with this film that is quite unlike his earlier hits like Drishyam or Memories
“With your kind of face, you better go and act in movies,” Kalidas Jayaram is told in one scene by Aparna Balamurali. Here’s a guy who is caught in the wrong profession. He is the leader of a ‘quotation’ gang that is constantly assigned petty jobs for which they’re given a laughable sum (one time, a box of chocolates). Sometimes they are beating up schoolboys for stalking a rich classmate’s girlfriend, and sometimes they are the ones getting beaten up for doing certain things like disrupting the screening of a Mohanlal film.
Naturally, it’s hard to take them seriously because nobody else around them does. It’s when Aparna, who is as aggressive as Kalidas, enters the scene that things get more lively. The confrontation between Kalidas and Aparna sets the stage for some heated verbal exchanges, and their relationship starts to resemble that of a warring husband and wife more than that of a couple in love (the vibe is close to that of the American screwball comedies from the 1940s). She is the sort of girl who would hit you back. But there are moments where her feistiness seems a bit over the top, and I wish she had exercised a little self-restraint. Deeper feelings are expected to show up sooner or later, but their chemistry lacks the spark needed to generate enough warmth.
Director: Jeethu Joseph
Cast: Kalidas Jayaram, Aparna Balamurali
There are no surprise elements to be found here, and the second half falters a bit due to some outdated thriller tropes. Perhaps some tighter editing could’ve helped things. The film is neither interested in dwelling on the characters’ misfortunes nor creating extremely melodramatic situations out of these, which is a good thing because none of them have particularly interesting backstories. We have seen the drunk father, the mentally-ill stepmother, and the unmarried sister before. There is an unresolved childhood trauma behind the formation of the gang; each member is burdened by familial obligations, which makes their reasons for choosing this career path understandable.
It’s nice to see Kalidas and gang having a lot of fun with the material, feigning aggression at times and venting their frustrations on the wrong people. Though not all jokes create the desired impact, a couple of sequences do the trick simply because of the way they are filmed. One ‘staged’ fight sequence, in particular, takes a hilarious dig at the unrealistic action choreography found in most South Indian films. To see Jeethu Joseph traversing a light-hearted terrain — one that doesn't succumb to expectations set by his earlier hits like Drishyam or Memories — makes for a much welcome change.