Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Malayalee From India review: Even Nivin Pauly’s honest performance can’t save this disappointing film


After the stupendous success of Nivin Pauly’s character in the recent Varshangalkku Sesham, comes the Malayalam star’s Malayalee from India. Helmed by the director of Jana Gana Mana, this dramedy sees Nivin Pauly team up with Dhyan Sreenivasan. (Also read: Heeramandi review: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s sprawling, sparkling debut show is blissfully free of his cinematic trappings)

Nivin Pauly in a still from Malayalee From India.

The plot

Gopi (Nivin Pauly) lives in Mullakara, Kerala, where he whiles away time playing cricket or campaigning for a political party. His best friend is Malghosh (Dhyan Sreenivasan) and the two end up getting in trouble most of the time to the despair of Gopi’s mother, who earns a living doing various jobs to support the family.

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One day while playing cricket, Gopi smashes a ball into a house where a group of men has come together for a meeting. A fight breaks out between Gopi’s gang and these men but it settles down soon. But it is when India is playing Pakistan in a crucial cricket match that things go awry. Pakistan wins the match and to the dismay of a few people in the village, a bunch of kids burst crackers. The people around assume it is for India’s defeat and given that the kids hail from the Muslim community, they are enraged.

Malghosh drags Gopi from home and he ends up attacking those families and communal riots break out in the village. Numerous men are seriously injured and Malghosh and Gopi are wanted by the police as well community members. Gopi is forced to flee his village and ends up in the Middle East in the middle of nowhere on a camel farm, bang in the middle of the Covid pandemic. And his supervisor is a Pakistani who loves cricket. What happens to Gopi? How does the case against him get resolved?

The disappointing writing

Director Dijo Jose Anthony’s film has tried to combine various social issues in this film–ranging from communal politics and manipulation of religion by politicians–to the current political atmosphere in India. Unfortunately, the script is poorly written by Sharis Mohammed and though the intention to highlight the importance of communal harmony can be applauded, the execution is below average.

The story is not coherent and jumps from one issue to the other, haphazardly, with comedic bits peppered throughout. For instance, initially, we see Gopi involved in politics and romancing Krishna (Anaswara Rajan) and are led to believe the film is connected to politics in Kerala. But the theme completely changes a few minutes later – and Krishna also vanishes from the film. And from Kerala, Gopi suddenly ends up on a camel farm in the desert in the Middle East. Why a camel farm in the desert? In fact, this reminds us of the recent hit film, The Goat Life. One gets the impression that most Malayalis – for some odd reason – end up on goat or camel farms in the UAE and then try to escape their horrendous lives there.

Nivin Pauly doesn’t look fresh in this film and though he performs with all his heart, it’s not enough to save Malayalee from India. Dhyan Sreenivasan and Nivin share good chemistry on screen and the comedy between them works out for the audience. However, the more serious message that the director and writer want to convey just gets lost in this mediocre film. Malayalee From India is disappointing and is not the comeback that the talented Nivin Pauly deserves.

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