'Guruvayoorambala Nadayil' movie review: Overcrowded, but still a lively wedding comedy

Though the film loses steam when it takes the slapstick route, the Prithviraj-Basil combo ensure it’s a largely enjoyable affair
A still from the film 'Guruvayoorambala Nadayil'
A still from the film 'Guruvayoorambala Nadayil'

In Malayalam cinema, we are generally used to seeing stories pivoting around couples, friends, siblings or even strangers, but we don’t often come across a story about two brothers-in-law. Vipin Das’ latest film explores one such quirky tale of bromance. The thread is woven around Anandan (Prithviraj Sukumaran) and Vinu (Basil Joseph), who are soon-to-be family. Vinu is about to marry Anandan’s sister, Anjaly, much to the two families’ delight.

Strangely enough, there is a stronger, sweeter relationship between the two prospective brothers-in-law. The first half hour of the film is devoted to underlining their thick bond as we see the two constantly on the phone discussing their lives and relationships, while also lavishing praise and motivating each other. Even as Vinu adores and respects Anandan, there are constant suggestions that there’s more to the latter than what meets the eye. Naturally, it’s just a matter of time before the sweetness turns sour.

Vipin Das treats both Vinu and Anandan with an over-the-top tone, whereas the two women, Anjaly (Anaswara Rajan) and Parvathy (Nikhila Vimal), are practical and level-headed. It is a ploy he employed efficiently in his last film Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey (JJJJH) as well, where only Jayabharathi (Darshana Rajendran) made sense. Unfortunately, unlike JJJJH, the women in Guruvayoorambala Nadayil don’t have a lot of agency. They are mostly sidelined and made to dance to the tunes of the two men.

But to credit where it’s due, the film attempts to break the ‘theppukari’ stereotype, and it’s no coincidence that the woman is seen ironing clothes before slipping into a monologue on being falsely accused of ‘theppu’ (ditching).

In a way, the comic treatment makes sure we don’t take these men seriously. Anandan is an impulsive, ill-tempered and suspicious man, who in another film would have been a cruel, ruthless jerk. It’s a challenge for an actor to maintain that balance, but Prithviraj aces it and ensures people don’t despise Anandan immediately. He shares a refreshing chemistry with Basil and their combination scenes are thoroughly effective.

While Basil is his usual self, just like his other films, Prithviraj’s portrayal is unique and perhaps among his best in a comedy role. Before the film’s release, there were concerns if he would be able to handle this flavour of comedy, but the actor puts all those doubts to rest with a performance that towers over everyone else.

Basil and Prithviraj’s first scene together comes after a lot of buildup and Vipin justifies it by making it a hilarious stretch, thanks to a brilliant placement of the iconic song, ‘Kannam Thumbi’. Similarly, the popular 90s Tamil song ‘Azhagiya Laila’ also pops up at the most defining and yet one of the funniest moments in the film.

After a largely enjoyable first half, Guruvayoorambala Nadayil loses steam when it takes the slapstick route. This is also where plenty of new characters and their conflicts are introduced, which reminds us of a world inhabited by characters from Priyadarshan’s ‘80s films. The last half hour of the film is reminiscent of the ‘confusion comedies’ of that era, with too many characters and chaos. It is still a commendable effort as the makers recreate the Guruvayoor temple’s ambience almost flawlessly.

Writer Deepu Pradeep, who curiously prefers wedding-related subjects, has quirky ideas. However, it seems to be a challenge for a filmmaker to visually communicate his verbal humour. It is evident in Guruvayoorambala Nadayil, as many scenes fail to convey the intended humour, but the comical lines are still memorable. Thankfully, the jokes that land outweigh the misfired. After Varshangalkku Shesham, this is another film that has several meta references, like when Basil and Prithviraj hilariously mimic the dialogues from Drishyam or when an iconic character from one of Prithviraj’s early films makes a fleeting appearance.

Guruvayoorambala Nadayil benefits greatly from its actors, but one can’t help but wish that a few supporting characters and their prominence were trimmed.

For instance, a lot of time is spent on characters like Mayankutty, Saravanan (Yogi Babu), and George, but save for some occasional laughs, their humour isn’t as effective as they should have been. But Aju Varghese manages to leave a lasting impression with his cameo appearance and the rendition of ‘Krishna Krishna’ song. It is a saving grace in an otherwise musically weak film. In an attempt to dial up the humour, Ankit Menon’s background score is needlessly present throughout the film and yet not productive.

Guruvayoorambala Nadayil is like a tempting kalyana sadhya with too many curries trying to spoil the fun. The scrumptious part is still the parippu-pappadam combo... read, Prithviraj and Basil.

Film: Guruvayoorambala Nadayil

Cast: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Basil Joseph, Nikhila Vimal, Anaswara Rajan

Director: Vipin Das

Rating : 3/5

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