The beginning of 2018 witnessed the releases of two well-written, emotionally stirring films—Sudani from Nigeria and Ee Ma Yau—which shared one common theme: parent-children bonding.
Now here we are, at the tail end of the year, with three major releases on the same day. I’m happy to report that one of them, Ente Ummante Peru, carries the goodness and emotions of the aforementioned films—especially Sudani from Nigeria.
Here is a film that arrived with little fanfare, no lofty ambitions or exaggerated claims. It doesn’t try to be a game-changer. Its aim is to tell a simple story really well and then manages to accomplish that.
The film opens with two sharply contrasting sequences—a happy wedding followed immediately by a funeral. The departed soul is that of Haider, father of our hero Hameed (Tovino Thomas). But this film is not interested in lingering on sad moments, and this is evident in a scene where a youngster who, at the funeral, is playing on his smartphone and tells his friends that Haider passed away after leaving the Wi-Fi on. One can’t help but laugh at that.
Hameed, who grew up without a mother, is now left feeling like a loner despite the presence of his best friend Beeran (the ever-reliable Hareesh Kanaran) and a close friend of Haider, Hamsakkoya (Mammukoya). The fact that Hameed has now become an orphan is standing in the way of his getting married to a girl Sainaba (Sai Priya).
Adding to the aggravation is the fact that Haider was a man of dubious reputation. In his younger days, he was romantically involved with more than one woman. One of them, it turns out, is Hameed’s mother. But who? It’s this question that drives the rest of the film. If Hameed doesn’t find her, then he can say goodbye to marital life.
Tovino is aptly cast as the shy, mild-mannered, and vulnerable Hameed. In terms of personality, Hameed is not that different from Tovino’s Ajayan from Oru Kuprasidha Payyan. Both men yearn for a companion and behave awkwardly in the presence of women. In one sweet moment, Hameed tells Sainaba, “I don’t know how to talk to women because my father used to be very strict.” But she doesn’t mind. She falls in love with his honesty. We can tell the two would make a perfect pair. But he must find his mother first.
Enter Urvashi as Aishumma, who may or may not be the woman who gave birth to him. You’ll have to wait till the end to find that out. But before that, we get to spend a lot of fun moments with Hameed and Aishumma, who make a fabulous duo. Despite their noticeable differences, they are both driven by a similar need for companionship: she needs a son and he needs a mother who can help him build a family.
Urvashi’s entry injects the film with an extra boost of energy. When Hameed sees her for the first time, there are no old-fashioned sentiments or sad music to enhance the emotions in the scene.
An old-fashioned disciplinarian, Aishumma takes charge of the household in a manner similar to that of a powerful mafia don. She is a woman who doesn’t like being stuck in the past. Aishumma embodies everything the film is about.
Though she is not too big on sentiments, she knows when to create a scene. It’s Urvashi’s best role in a long time.
The other thing I noticed about the film is that it makes you feel the presence of characters who never make an appearance in the story but are only mentioned.
It’s apparent that writers Sarath R Nath and Jose Sebastian (also the director) prepared a proper background for each character. Take Hameed’s father, for example. You never see any flashbacks of Haider’s life or his interactions with Hameed. But whenever a character talks about Haider, the details of his past adventures appear vividly in your mind.
Though the film is high on emotion, the characters’ display of it is admirably restrained. This restraint is also seen in Jordi Plannel Closa’s photography. His camera is unobtrusive and makes the best use of available lighting and warm colours.
Ente Ummante Peru works mostly due to its impactful, heartwarming performances and its effective sense of humour.
It’s basically the cinematic representation of that quote you sometimes see on social media: Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs.
Film: Ente Ummante Peru
Cast: Tovino Thomas, Urvashi, Sai Priya, Hareesh Kanaran
Director: Jose Sebastian