Malayalam Reviews

Mangalyam Thanthunanena Review: An Unremarkable Domestic Drama

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Director: Soumya Sadanandan

Cast: Kunchacko Boban, Nimisha Sajayan, Hareesh Kanaran, Leona Lishoy

Composer: Bijibal

Mangalyam Thanthunanena opens to a church wedding scene. The ceremony is underway, and the groom uneasily looks at a picture of the Christ beneath which is written, “He carries the Cross.” We see the bride’s face. She is shining in happiness. The groom shudders a little. Suddenly he imagines himself as Jesus, and the marital life he is about to enter is the Cross. It is from this cheesy and cliched moment, which states that marriage is a trap that ties down men, that Mangalyam Thanthunanena begins.

The film, directed by debutante Soumya Sadanandan, is a domestic drama that unfolds over the first year of a marriage.

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The couple goes from starry-eyed lovers to two unhappy individuals living under the same roof. The film finishes when love starts creeping into their life again.

Mangalyam Thanthunanena turns this sizeable premise into a laughing stock by lending it a soap opera treatment. Instead of meaty characterisations, you get prototypes. Overbearing wives and hapless husbands whose independence is curtailed by the familial system. Women gossip, bicker, and manipulate. Men lose their peace of mind. The film proceeds like an inferior replication of Priyadarshan’s yesteryear classic comedy, Mithunam, and resembles many a B-Grade comedy that was produced in the 90s on marital discord. Soumya chooses to follow suit and narrate the story from a man’s point of view.

Roy (Kunchacko Boban) loses his job in Dubai while he is in Kerala for his wedding. On top of his unemployed status, he is also hounded by a heavy loan that he drew from a local bank. Barely three months after the wedding, his marital life slips into an unpleasant terrain as he had always feared. The film’s core plot revolves around the couple’s arguments. Roy’s wife, Clara (Nimisha Sajayan), wants him to join her rich father’s financial institution as a manager. His inflated ego stops him from taking up the job. He wants her gold jewelry to settle the loan, but she refuses. When she puts her foot down, Roy does something ‘sacrilegious’ – he pawns his expensive wedding ring, and tries every trick in the book to hide it from Clara.

It’s the second time this year (after Jab Harry Met Sejal) that a wedding ring has ruined a movie.

It is nothing short of a wonder that in 2018, at a time when Malayalam cinema is exploring new horizons in terms of style as well as content, a National Award winning woman filmmaker decides to make a movie that looks like a commercial for a gold loan company. The man detests his home because he feels he is sandwiched between his headstrong wife and mother. He expresses his dilemma in dialogues that are similar to the tone-deaf and sexist jokes that flood your family WhatsApp groups. The screenplay fails to flesh out the characters or their milieu. You don’t really get to know why Roy feels suffocated in this marriage that, from what the film shows, seems like a regular affair.

There is neither a sub-plot nor an interesting sub-character in the background. Hareesh Kanaran plays Shamsu, a bank employee whose life revolves around the well-being of Roy. He is a comedian whose sole purpose in the film is to keep the audience from dozing off. He shoots jokes one after another, and in contrast to the actor’s usual outings, most of the one-liners are bland. Nimisha Sajayan has a striking onscreen persona that turns Clara into a feisty young woman who knows what she wants. But we never get to know anything about her beyond what Sajayan’s performance tells us.

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For one, why does Clara, a strong-willed and educated woman, never think about getting a job?

Weak characterisation isn’t what bugs the film the most. Few moments in the film look genuine and organic; dialogues are loud and at times, nonsensical. The screenplay sets up several roadblocks as Roy attempts to clear his loan. One of them is a bank manager (Leona Lishoy) who, in an utterly absurd scene, tries to entice him. A dire lack of imagination turns this film into a long-winded snooze-fest. When it culminates in an old-fashioned happy family frame, you wonder what the film was really about. What are you supposed to glean from this drama which showcases the seeming perils of being in an unremarkable marriage? The many advantages of having a collection of gold ornaments, perhaps.

*****

The Mangalyam Thanthunanena 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.

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