Manju Warrier’s How Old Are You? (2014) | Rosshan Andrrews| Kunchachko Boban

I went to watch the film on a Monday evening. The Malayalee audience of this city for the show  came in early, waited patiently in the lobby munching on their first batch of popcorns and drinking their cups of coffee until the cleaning of the screen was over.. to walk in, take their seats, settle down to watch Manju Warrier….it has been a Malayalee dream to see her back on screen.. an actor’s dream to act with her.. may be a director’s dream to direct her and .. so on and so forth.. This  film will  run to house full theatres because we have been waiting for this film for the last 14 years…

…think it was the first shot after the credits…she appeared.. in an ash/grey and green bordered sari…..the audience clapped!

She is back.. and I wish her all wishes to have a successful rerun…

This film is one about Manju Warrier, her comeback.. and two about the transformation of the character, Nirupama Rajeev/Krishnan she plays..  a script that can be talked about as fictitious however, one that resembles Manju Warrier’s own circumstances and absence from the industry for 14 years. The comparison is inevitable.

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The crux of the film is the conflict in interest when a working mother/wife Nirupama decides to make a mark, wants to follow her dreams she has been ignoring for the sake of her husband and daughter …she ignored them to a point where she feels she is a different person now. The choices and chances that come by are serendipitous. She decides to take the train and in her journey,  she has a college friend in Susan (Kaniha) who motivates and believes in her abilities, a set of in-laws (Kunjan & KalaRanjini) who are very supportive, a mother (Vanitha Krishnachandran) who is a pillar of strength, and an office colleague who is a partner in her every crime and another well wisher in Vinay Fort as a new recruit in the office ..

What the film does is present to us through the character of Nirupama about a woman’s life as a wife and a mother and how it is shoved under the carpet in spite of all the sacrifices she makes for the family.  Or as the film itself asks… who decides the expiry date of a woman’s dreams? Nirupama becomes the butt of jokes, the most misinterpreted and misunderstood, and unwanted person in spite of her dedication to her loved ones. The villain of the story is the patriarch himself – her husband Rajeev, a struggling professional who thinks of making it big in another country! He is the demotivator, the emotional blackmailer, the perpetually unsatisfied husband/spouse type who guilt trips his wife and makes her feel inadequate! His fickle mindedness will tickle anybody, any woman in fact, with a sense of a self.

Nevertheless, the film did not work for me.. the character did not work neither did the story..the freshness of the opening credits faded out in the first half itself… it reminded me of English Vinglish at each step, to the point where I thought what would the makers done if there was no precedence in a Sridevi and Gauri Shinde English Vinglish! It is a cause of concern, this comparison.. because the Sridevi film had a beautiful build up..the script flowed, there were other characters, there were twists… this one does not…. and that was the flaw if it can be called one… if nothing else, this was another version of the other recent Malayalam films, Bharaya Athra Pora and Varuthe Oru Bharya.. 

But that apart, she is a good actor and has carried her role very well… It is truly her comeback film, And every character and every scene is directed towards her reaching the goal.

For instance, one way the audience is made to love the character she plays more is by creating this counter character of the chauvinistic husband played by Kunchacko Boban. We would hate Rajeev.. for Chackochan has given a brilliant performance … and if not for that powerful hate towards his character, a similar irritation we felt towards the character of the fiance played by Rajkumar Rao in Queen (2014) we wouldn’t have felt that bad for Nirupama. In addition to this, the persona of Nirupama is made interesting because unlike the usual protagonists she has an equal share of flaws as well, bragging for instance is one…. Some of the humour in the film comes from these flaws.

In the midst of all the /[H]onorable/ and /Jokes/ in a typical Malayalam phonetic flow.. the satire on the serial audience of Malayalam Television, the backbites and the stereotyping of the so called intellectual reading habits, recreation of men, one take away is wash your hands and your vegetables and fruits because “they contain a cocktail of pesticides…” grow your own vegetables, build houses with a space for a little garden of your own..

One disconnect however is that Manju Warrier, the marathon runner is very different from Nirupama Rajeev/Krishnan of the film.. The marathon run seems almost like a dream sequence just like the second half of the film is a page from a modern fairy tale…

In terms of the locations  of  the film, anybody who has been to Jaipur would LOL at a particular scene or react with a sense of a recognition towards it  🙂 As for any Cochinite, like me…the film is a short quick trip to my city.. I went home and returned in a span of 2 hours or so.. 🙂

On another note, I really hope against hope the common Malalayalee will take the essence of the film seriously.. and hereafter stop looking at people, Malayalees and others, in terms of just age. Ageism is one rampant disorder among Mals in particular.. in myriad ways, the younger generation in particular has ways of looking at the older ones.. passing comments such as they are old therefore they have nothing else to do therefore become religious or some such thing! or see serials or buy clothes for them in pastel shades instead of their favourite reds and greens…

The film says out loud and clear that age really does not matter, what matters is  always the will.. the will to take up, the will to work, .. who are we to typecast the older generation or anybody older to us as ineffective, spiritual or useless because they have gone past a certain age! Let’s be as careful and sensitive to age as we are towards say women empowerment!

PS: I can’t really figure what is so intellectually different about watching episodes of Friends, Sherlock and Hannibal and soap operas in regional languages. A form of entertainment people get addicted to, seek pleasure in and find a routine time pass!

 

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An Aquarius Woman

24 thoughts on “Manju Warrier’s How Old Are You? (2014) | Rosshan Andrrews| Kunchachko Boban”

  1. Indeed the movie was a much-awaited one. I am yet to see it though it’s running in a few cinemas here. But a few friends of mine, who saw the film, too weren’t quite impressed. Let me see.

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  2. “I can’t really figure what is so intellectually different about watching episodes of Friends, Sherlock and Hannibal and soap operas in regional languages. A form of entertainment people get addicted to, seek pleasure in and find a routine time pass!”

    I share your sentiments here.
    And that was one honest and unbiased review of the movie I loved. My reason: Manju Warrier. Lots of luck to her.

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  3. I watched this movie on television; decided not to go with the flow as everyone was watching it. I watched Premam late, and didn’t want to watch Ennu Ninte Moideen because everyone was just going on praising them – there were even free shows of How Old Are You? for women of our ward. If there is too much praising going on, there is a big chance that we will like it less.
    I haven’t watched English Vinglish, but I did have some troubles with this movie here and there; but in the end, like Manju herself says in Rani Padmini and as her movies reflect, “I don’t like stories without messages” 😀 😀

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    1. The thing with English Vinglish, How Old Are You films are the little incidents that the films portray connects with a lot of women.. lot of kids who are close to their mothers and are observant.. now taking forward to Rani Padmini.. women who are trapped in such situations, want a way out, and the popular way of doing it these days is women travelling… https://vaayadipennu.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/rani-and-padmini-inferences/
      I like that fact films are inspirational.. but more than that I am sad that it needs a film to find that inspiration, we can do it on our own.. we just don’t look around.

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      1. Yes, but in every case, movies will work better for us, and so do the books. It is easier to believe an imaginary protagonist because we have grown up reading fairy-tales, and it provides a certain amount of satisfaction to be like that particular person on screen 🙂 There is the willing suspension of disbelief, and I believe that the same thing sets us free to connect and reflect in a better way 🙂

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