Shubarathri Movie Review: A trite TV soap that overdoses on goodness
Religion, god, pilgrimage, compassion...this film contains all of these in excess.
I want to smoke whatever Siddique's character Mohammed is smoking. But I doubt he smokes anything because this man is so pure, so kind, and so good-hearted that I bet he doesn't indulge in such habits. At one point in the film, he says, "There is no mistake in this world that can't be forgiven." Perhaps there is a secret ingredient in his wife's biryani recipe that makes him say such stupid things. In fact, most of the characters in this film behave as if they're high on something.
Though it's marketed as a Dileep-Anu Sithara film, they don't make their entrance until after the intermission. This is ultimately the story of Mohammed and his boundless benevolence. The film opens and ends with him. This makes him, in essence, the main character. But before we are introduced to Mohammed, we are treated to a pointless opening sequence that exists just for the sake of delivering a sermon -- through multiple characters -- on what being religious really means, and what God likes and doesn't like.
Director: Vyasan KP
Cast: Dileep, Anu Sithara, Siddique
Speaking of sermons, I'm beginning to think that Malayali filmmakers are being pressured these days to deliver subjects that are dripping with goodness. Not that there is anything wrong with feel-good films, but there is a huge difference between the Kumbalangi Nights feel-good and the 'Shubarathri' feel-good. The second kind belongs to a different era.
Religion, god, pilgrimage, compassion...this film contains all of these in excess. I've lost count of the number of times God is mentioned. If you were a character in this film, you're always bound to run into somebody who credits God for one thing or the other. At times I felt it was designed to convert atheists. Even the kids today are clever enough not to buy the s*** these characters are selling.
The first half is entirely devoted to Mohammed as he goes around meeting friends and relatives before he sets out for Hajj. It's a ritual, we're told. One has to make sure that no one harbors ill feelings toward them and vice versa. But why he did he take this long to make amends with a few of them? For e.g, why didn't he pay a visit to a school friend (a superb Indrans) much earlier? I have to admit though that regardless of what Mohammed smokes or eats, Siddique is fabulous as usual. He has consistently delivered good performances no matter how bad the script is.
When Dileep and Anu Sithara finally show up, things get even more theatrical. Their badly written lines are straight out of television soaps. I wonder how they managed to say all that with a straight face (although I noticed one actor struggling hard to conceal a smile). Just when you thought you survived the extreme corniness in the first half, here comes some more to make you feel miserable. Mohammed's trip is indefinitely delayed because someone tried to rob his house. He is now unsettled. He learns that there is a reason why the thief did what he did. No points for guessing what Mohammed does next.
The film's posters say "200 percent feel good". Well, the film lives up to that promise.... again and again, and again. Considering the unbelievable ease with which things resolve themselves in the climax, it should be 500 per cent by that point. There is so much happiness in Shubarathri that it could give Dhanya Varma's Happiness Project (a great show) or Will Smith's The Pursuit of Happiness (a great film) a run for their money. One character in this film walks off into the sunset...literally. By the time the film gets over, it is way past the overdosing stage. The situation becomes fatal... for the viewers. The characters walk off into the sunset. The viewers don't.