'Aavesham' movie review: Fahadh & Sajin Gopu scream through this laugh riot

Jithu Madhavan crafts a witty, well-made entertainer on an unlikely bond between a gangster and three college students
'Aavesham' movie poster
'Aavesham' movie poster

Film: Aavesham

Director: Jithu Madhavan

Cast: Fahadh Faasil, Sajin Gopu, Hipster, Mithun Jai Shankar, Rosh1an Shanavas

Rating: 3.5/5

It’s always a pleasure to watch actors letting loose their hair and having fun while performing. Imagine a talent like Fahadh Faasil in such a space. The man is almost always at the top of his game, but in 'Aavesham', we see a Fahadh who seems to have enjoyed himself like never before. He sheds all his inhibitions and genteel to become Ranga, a local gangster, who gets excited even on seeing new dance trends on Instagram. Ranga’s right hand man is Ambadi, who he fondly—and funnily—calls Ambaad. It is an equally caricaturish role with the might of a beast and the heart of a baby. Sajin Gopu, in this role, is a ball of fire and perfectly complements Fahadh’s madness. These two characters ignite the film everytime it seems to run out of steam.

Jithu Madhavan’s directorial debut, 'Romancham' (2023), was a far cry from the usual rose-tinted portrayal of life in Bengaluru. The unruly leads in it never visited pubs or hung out in posh clubs. Instead, they were holed up somewhere in the city outskirts ‘fighting their demons’. In 'Aavesham', the director once again trains his lens to Bengaluru and a new bunch of loafers. The film begins with Aju (Hipster), Shanthan (Roshan Shanavas) and Bibi’s (Mithun Jai Shankar) early engineering days and hostel life. After they get brutally ragged and assaulted by fellow Malayali seniors, the trio decides to take revenge with the help of local support—read: Ranga. Soon, we see an unlikely bond blossoming between the gangster and the three students.

'Aavesham'’s quirkiness is hurled at us right from the title cards—the three debutant actors are introduced with funny monikers like ‘hot star’, ‘roaring star’ and ‘cute star’. The boys may not be born stars, but all three have immense potential. Among them, Mithun gets the more elaborate character and he’s impressive in this skin, even when standing up against giants like Fahadh Faasil. Neeraja Rajendran, who plays his mother’s role, is also a revelation. The innocence with which she asks “mon happy ano?” can even melt even Keerikadan Jose, forget poor Ranga.

Well ahead of the release, 'Aavesham' was publicised as the reintroduction of Fahadh Faasil. This turns out to be quite accurate. We see the actor doing things that he is normally not known for, like dancing and doing slow-motion action. Ranga’s character is carefully crafted by the makers. While his looks and talk remind one of Mammootty’s character from 'Chattambinadu' (2009), there are also shades of the superstar’s iconic character, Rajamanikyam. Ranga’s characterisation is a wonderful mix of exuberance, aggression, vulnerability, and a yearning for acceptance. Even when surrounded by hundreds of sword-wielding men, he seeks that someone for casual interactions. The don is also distraught about the lukewarm response to his dance reels. Fahadh beautifully embodies all these quirky traits, ensuring we laugh our heads off, whilst also rooting for the character.

While watching 'Aavesham', it’s hard not to be reminded of Karthik Subbaraj’s 'Jigarthanda' (2014). Siddharth’s character in it befriends Assault Sethu, a don, to make a gangster film. He learns about Sethu’s early life and ascension through various interesting episodes narrated by the henchmen. Similarly, the three boys in 'Aavesham' buddy up with Ranga for their personal gain. They get to learn about Ranga’s past through some hilarious narrations by Ambaad and fellow thugs. But there’s a difference. Ranga never exalts the vibes of a cold-blooded killer like Sethu. We only hear about his heroics, but never see any. He is a gangster who doesn’t beat anyone to honour a promise made to his mother. All these details make it seem like a spoof character. But towards the end, we realise that it was all deliberately crafted to ensure the final punch is effective.

Punch! What’s a gangster story without fights? The film has plenty of it, with the interval and climax set pieces worth all the hype. Interestingly enough, Fahadh stays away from most of it. It is a bulked-up Sajin Gopu who does all the heavy lifting—literally. The actor excels with not just the fights, but the immediate humour that follows. Watch out for the scene where he is bleeding but still thrilled about finally earning the 15th stab mark on his back. The Ranga-Ambaad scenes are a riot with both the actors totally internalising the absurdity.

Besides its quirky writing and excellent cast, 'Aavesham' is also powered by a strong technical team. Sushin Shyam’s music is loud, fun, and packed with energy—perfectly in sync with the film’s zippy mood. Perhaps, the only gripe is about the placement of a chartbuster song like ‘Illuminati’ in the end credits.

On his part, editor Vivek Harshan rarely lets go of the momentum as he tightens the film aptly at 158 minutes. A stand-out moment is when he employs a beautiful transition shot in the climax to reveal Ranga’s vulnerable side. Special credits to the cinematography and production design teams for getting the film’s visual appeal right. It’s not always that we laugh at a set work, but we do when we see Ambaad and gang enjoying a dip on a makeshift swimming pool built on the back of a lorry.

Such crazy ideas and a crazier Fahadh Faasil ensure 'Aavesham' is a hoot in the theatres. While several films that come out under the label of comedy fail to entertain even for a minute, here’s a film that keeps tickling our ribs with just one dialogue—”Ada Mwone”. Throughout the film, Fahadh delivers the same line in various modulations—with love, affection, desperation, anger... but you invariably end up laughing... every single time.

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