Biju Menon in Aadyarathri

Director: Jibu Jacob

Cast: Biju Menon, Aju Varghese and Naseer Sankranthy

If Jibu Jacob’s Aadyarathri was an answer sheet, it would be a very thin one. The director seems most comfortable answering the smaller questions — the match the followings and the fill in the blanks. But he draws a blank when we move on to lengthier, five-mark questions. The film wears its lack of ambition on its sleeve, and it’s clear that it won’t even attempt anything that goes beyond the narrow purview of what has constituted Biju Menon’s brand of cinema in recent years.

If this director’s previous film with Biju Menon was set against the backdrop of politics, in Aadyarathri, the topic is weddings. Manoharan (Biju Menon) plays a matchmaker who wants a share from every wedding in his Kuttanadan island. Like Mammottty’s Hitler Madhavankutty, the youngsters in his village are afraid of him because he doesn’t want people to fall in love, lest he lose a potential matchmaking opportunity. Predictably, the film’s main conflict comes from a wedding that’s tougher to plan than the usual.

But the problem with Aadyarathri is that it never feels like anything is at stake. The film goes along pleasantly with its wisecracks and giggles, but it never goes beyond that. For much of the film, it feels like nothing significant is happening. Biju Menon’s signature dialogue delivery and Aju Varghese’s OTT mannerisms were far more novel during Vellimoonga, which means that scenes can no longer be written around their comic abilities alone. Even when the situation changes to one of confusion, no one really seems to be bothered. So, why should we? And this goes on to make whole stretches of the film feel dull and unexciting. Nothing in the film is cringeworthy, and it even gets it politics right, but that’s very little reason to keep watching this film. There’s not much you can say about a film that aspires for so little, attempting only to get past that pass mark.

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