In his sophomore film, Ramesh Pisharody, the most popular stage-television comedian in Kerala, makes a case against laws that protect women and their rights. The film narrates a convoluted tale of a mild-mannered lower middle-class family man who falls into a trap laid by a vile young woman and lands in prison. Holding her as a model, Pisharody asks, “What about the women who lie and exploit the law to seek revenge against men?”
The questions he raises are cool, but the film is tone-deaf junk that looks like a stretched out comedy-skit. It displays a compulsive urge to crack jokes in all kinds of situations (Hareesh Kanaran is brought in exclusively to water down a scene where a woman attempts suicide). The jokes are largely awful. Dharmajan plays a fish vendor who rides the latest model bike. When he appears on screen, the film adds a loud piece of background score and a set of dialogues to establish the joke, just in case the audience didn’t get it the first time. Pisharody is unfamiliar with the concept of subtlety in filmmaking. Characters are written as caricatures and actors are made to perform loudly, as though there is an invisible audience watching them inside the movie. The narrative is badly fragmented. In the initial part of the film, scenes are stacked up without an apparent connection.
Unless you allow yourself to be distracted by the circus of comedy the film spends most of its energy in, you are unlikely to not see the stupidity of its core premise. The protagonist, Ullas (Mammootty), is a vocalist in an old-fashioned music troupe that performs film songs at social events. He is happily married with a teenage daughter whom he loves to bits. His life is near idyllic. Ullas is clearly a kind man, but never do you get a sign that he is foolish enough to let strangers ruin his life using not-so-smart ideas. He doesn’t suspect anything amiss when a former troupe member (Johny Antony) who is now living as an illegal migrant in the United States, invites him to perform on a stage show there. When a travel agent (Mukesh) requests him to commit an immigration fraud that could land him in jail and ruin his life forever, he agrees, to be fair, after some initial attempts to resist. He lies to his beloved wife and daughter, travels to a hill station with a young woman, Sandra (Athulya Chandra), whom he barely knows, and gets officially registered as her husband. Sandra’s behaviour towards him and the people around her is extremely unpleasant and shady. But the kind-hearted man doesn’t suspect her intentions, or make an attempt to back out of the plan.
Pisharody doesn’t make an attempt to create convincing characters or situations, probably because he knows that the subject he’s dealing with is a crowd-pleaser that only requires broad strokes. The film presents to the audience two kinds of women—the first kind, represented by Sandra, dresses in modern clothes, speaks English, chooses to drive a car even when a man is available, and is cool with premarital sex. These women are rude enough to snap at men. The second kind, represented by Ullas’ wife, his lawyer and several other sub-characters, are perfectly ‘white’. They are ‘anti-feminazi’. Ullas’ lawyer rushes into his kitchen to prepare tea for him and his friends since his wife is away. Ullas’ wife, upon realising that he has married another woman, decides to kill herself rather than confronting him. You see that the goodness in Ullas is directly proportional to Sandra’s villainy. Her car hits a hapless old vendor on the road, and before anyone can blame her, she slaps the man and creates a ruckus. Ullas, silent witness to what happened, consoles the man and gives him money towards hospital expenses. Ullas compromises and makes sacrifices for Sandra while she brutally discards him after her work is done.
It is difficult to decide what is more offensive about Ganagandharvan—its grotesque sense of humour, the utterly nonsensical filmmaking, or the brazenness with which it shouts ‘Not All Men’ using the most manipulative narrative techniques and crowd pleasing elements.
The Ganagandharvan review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.