Subharathri still

Language: Malayalam

Cast: Siddique, Dileep, Asha Sharath, Anu Sithara

Director: Vyasan KP

Vyasan KP’s Subharathri comes from a Barajatya-esque universe where there are no bad people, only bad times. It is based on a real life incident and this only adds to the film’s old-world charm and overall ‘niceness’. Like Salim Ahamed’s Adaminte Makhan Abu, Subharathri too talks about the days leading up to a man’s Haj pilgrimage. Before middle-aged Mohammed (Siddique) makes the holy trip to Mecca, he needs to mend fences, rebuild bridges and apologise for old mistakes. The latter even includes apologising to an old seventh grade classmate, who he meets after decades, for a crime most people would dismiss as kids just being kids. When its time to divide his properties, he believes in not only splitting them equally among his sons and daughters, but also among their spouses. Despite his wealth, he still travels on his scooter, wears the same clothes every day and is happy with his bowl of gruel for dinner. And just when he believes he has everything in order for a smooth trip to holy land, an unwelcome visitor makes an entry, rattling the very core of his beliefs.

This visitor, Krishnan (Dileep), already branded a thief, desperately needs a sum of money to save his dying daughter. So when he enters Mohammed’s house at midnight to steal this sum, what we’re witnessing is the Christian conundrum we associate with a man stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. Given the timing of this incident (a day before Mohammed leaves for Haj) this ethical dilemma is as much Mohammed’s as it is Krishnan’s. Is sorting out personal affairs alone enough for a Muslim man to make a fruitful trip to Mecca? What does it mean when God presents you with such a situation so close to something so significant? What role does zakaat play in life? These are the questions that lend a very storybook-like quality to the film.

Told with an inherent innocence, the film has a way of making us willingly overlook its archaic filmmaking style and clunky dialogues. At times these faults even add to the film’s flavour. But it’s the writing that makes the film tiresome. We can easily predict how a scene is going to play out the moment it begins. It’s much the same with the way certain scenes are staged. There’s almost no added information we get from a scene that’s not in the form of dialogue. Entire sub plots, like the one in the beginning involving a man from Kerala joining ISIS in Syria, never really come back for any significant effect later on. Even Krishnan’s love story plays out as a series of cliches, adding very little to what we feel or care about them. Even so, it’s a film that has its moments and a refreshing amount of honesty with an ability to surprise the sentimentalist in you.


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