Sajin Babu’s Ayaal Sasi is a portrait of a dying man.
Sasi, a middle-aged artist living in Thiruvananthapuram, discovers one day that he has just six months left to live. He has no family, but a cheerful gang of friends who stand by him through thick and thin. He leads a carefree life, sans any principles or moral codes. What drives him the most is a desire to be in the limelight – to be the centre of attraction in any crowd. He is a familiar face in the city’s cultural gatherings where he sings, dances and drinks uninhibitedly.
When this man realises that he is to die soon, he takes it in his stride, and decides that his departure from the world should be quite an event. Here, the film doesn’t slip into mawkishness – in fact, Sajin’s Ayaal Sasi finds its pace and humour only after its protagonist receives the news of his imminent death. Sasi leaves the city for a lovely village where he owns a house on the banks of a river.
Sajin’s film stays detached from Sasi and his petty life, which is further ruined by the hollow decisions that he makes. It doesn’t sympathise with Sasi when his plans to die in peace go haywire one by one. At times, the film becomes a cringe-comedy, laughing at the bizarre situations in Sasi’s life. But there are loose ends aplenty, which stop the audience from being amused by the attempts at humour. For one, there is a scene in which a friend of Sasi explains to a crowd of wide-eyed guests, the operation of a multi-specialty coffin that Sasi has ordered from Europe. The friend points to a social media button on the side of the coffin, and the guests applaud in awe. It is a scene as strange and cold as it is funny. It looks forced.
Sajin doesn’t try to experiment with style or form in this film. You see motifs and clues everywhere – like the paintings of Ambedkar on the wall of Sasi’s house, and the casual narration of the story behind Sasi’s surname. You know where the man is coming from, and a little later, you realise why he is the way he is. But at the end, nothing moves you. There is a lack of intrigue in the narration.
The saving grace is Srinivasan’s impressive portrayal of the protagonist. His tired body-language, and quick wit makes Sasi a convincing character. In the opening sequence, you see him dancing on the street with abandon. There is no grace in his steps, but Srinivasan’s charming originality makes it worth your while.
The Ayaal Sasi review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.