'Ustad Hotel' (Malayalam)
Director: Anwar Rasheed
Cast: Dulquer Salmaan, Nithya Menen, Thilakan and others
What makes Malabar Biriyani so irresistible? The enviable combo of aroma-spreading spices and aesthetically fried chicken cooked with unconditional love makes it something that every foodie will die for.
So, what are the ingredients needed for an appealing movie? Opinions may differ. But the makers of the Ustad Hotel, one of Mollywood’s eagerly awaited films, especially because of the star cast, seems to have got everything simply right. No cliched combo of patriarchal war-violence- melodrama. No run-of-the-mill romantic flick. Ustad Hotel is a simple movie that deals with the lives of ordinary people who, with their openness and remarkable simplicity, do extraordinary things.
The deep bond between the small-time hotelier Kareem (Thilakan), who owns not just the recipe for delicious dishes, but also for a blissful life, and his grandson Faisi (Dulquer Salmaan), who returns after graduating in hotel management from Europe, is the crux of the movie. Food being the integral part, the movie throws light to the world of underprivileged people struggling to quench their hunger and the rich trying to eat up the poor and the marginalised. These complex issues are brilliantly woven around in the seemingly breezy tale of the easy-going-go-lucky boy trying to follow his dream.
With a pinch of sarcasm and humour, the male dominant society’s unjustifiable affection towards boys and the way hapless married women are being ‘used’ for ‘producing’ children is portrayed. Abdul (Siddique), Faisi’s father, whose desire for a baby boy made his wife deliver more than five times resulting in her untimely death and the gloom and despair writ large on the faces of Abdul and his family members whenever a baby girl was born shows the realism in the script.
The star cast boasts of Dulquer Salmaan, son of megastar Mammootty, charming Nithya Menen, Mamukkoya, Siddique and Lena, but legendary actor Thilakan with his fine performance steals the show. They say good wine grow stronger as it grows older. This holds true in the case of this septuagenarian who gives a stellar performance.
The youthful and glamorous Dulquer has come out of his father’s shadow in the role of Faisi.
Nithya Menen, who appears as Shahna, the friend-cum-lover of Faisi, also shakes a leg to the already-popular foot-tapping number Appangal embadum ottakku. Cinematographer (S Lokanathan), editor (Praveen Prabhakar), art director (Biju Chandran), costume designer (Sameera Saneesh) and choreographer (Shanker) have managed to keep abreast with the spirit of the movie. Gopi Sunder’s music injects more life to this bittersweet movie. Manjadikuru fame Anjali Menon deserves a special mention for her script.