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May 3, 2017

Manivathoorile Aayiram Sivarathrikal

I write movie reviews for a couple of reasons. One is to keep my writing from becoming rusty. I write nothing much these days – no poems, no journals or blogs, only occasional hashtag sentences without spaces. All part of being one with the times. Alternatively, I could use the oft-resorted excuse of people with multiple progeny – busy as a bee about to go extinct.

The other reason for keeping this movie log is to keep track of the movies I watch and to capture my reaction and recollection of those movies. Unlike many film fiends that I know, who can belt out dialogs or keep track and explain back to me all the multi-linear narratives in Memento several years after they had seen the film, I tend to forget the details of a movie soon as I turn off the TV and put down the remote.

One night this week, between the evening rush, dinner and getting into bed rituals I watched a Malayalam movie I must have watched as a child, but have absolutely no recollection of. I can blame the passage of time, a quarter of a century or more, for my memory loss. Manivathoorile Aayiram Sivarathrikal is often mentioned as one of the milestone Malayalam movies from the eighties. Directed by Fazil, it had beautiful songs and a leading pair who were pure eye candy at the time – Mammootty and Suhasini.

The story, as I rewatch it now, is pure Mills & Boons or Malayala Manorama – pick your poison. I wonder whether we (Malayali audience) were so melodramatic in the eighties that we could consume this movie without batting an eye. Not just that, we even made Fazil’s script and movie a big hit. Considering Puli Murugan’s success last year, we have not grown any wiser, only worse.

One thing I notice now about Fazil’s female characters is in most of his movies one of his pivotal female characters will die. This death becomes the undoing of all his other female characters who are then relegated to the sidelines and most often require a compassionate knight to see them through choppy waters. The box office success of Fazil movies were directly tied to the ability of his movies to work the tear glands of his female audience (in Malayalam  - sthree janangale aake motham kanneer aniyikkunna katha)

The female lead in Manivathoor, played by Suhasini leads a sheltered life that involves driving a Fiat (she is the default chauffer for all the male members of her progressive family) and idling around idyllic Ooty locales singing top 10 songs. She has absolutely no ambition other than making kanji (rice porridge) for her physician Dad and brother at dinner and chauffeuring them around, despite an early upbringing in the ultra-modern but morally corrupt London town.

It would be fair to say that a film with a female lead with such an uninspiring prosaic outlook is not going to get good grades from me and Manivathoorile Aayiram Sivarathrikal gets a meh in my books. On to other forgotten(by me) eighties Malayalam movies on YouTube.

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