Mayanadi, Ashiq Abu's latest directorial venture comes after a gap of two years. His work is not always to my taste. I loved Salt n' Pepper. 22F Kottayam was okay. Didn't like his later ventures till Rani Padmini which I liked enough to watch more than once. So I was a bit skeptical about what was touted as a "newgen romance", but decided that for the sake of keeping an open mind, I would go and watch the movie.
Let me tell you straight away - I liked the movie. Liked - not loved and I don't think that it is awesome to the nth degree. It is the "love" or "friendship" story of two very flawed people - Mathan (Tovino Thomas) and Aparna (Aiswarya Lakshmi). The two form an attachment while in college. They break up due to trust issues. Mathan goes on to become a bit of a conman till he gets into real trouble. But he has always kept his love for Aparna alive. So he asks her to run away with him to the Gulf.
Aparna, on the other hand, never got to complete her studies and is a struggling actress. She auditions as much as she can, models for ads and moonlights as an MC for lavish weddings and such. She has to support her mother and brother. The family is not a close one. She knows she cannot trust Mathan since he broke that trust once before. But she also cannot say no when he tries to get back into her good graces.
As a story it is a change from the routine and cliched fare of filmy romance. And it is picturized beautifully. The actors deliver superb performances and are very easy on the eyes. There is no denying that logic and common sense have been sacrificed at the altar of dramatic tension and elicitation of tragedy. But it is watchable and engrossing. The ironic comedy scenes are superb. My knowledge of Tamil is pretty basic and I would have loved to have some subtitles.
This is what I felt in the movie theater. But after I came out, one of my friends pointed out to me that the picture has been touted as the epitome of women empowerment. Say what??? Walking alone in the streets of Kochi after midnight, stringing along a guy who loves you and just using him for sex and moral support and keeping mum when a good friend is carried away by her overbearing brother so that you can snag her job - these are supposed to be what women need to feel empowered??? I am sorry, I must have missed a memo somewhere...
IMHO, that is just kowtowing to the male-defined model of achieving "success" at any cost and using emotionally vulnerable people just for physical satisfaction. Is the adoption of that historical male prerogative the definition of feminine empowerment? Sorry, I beg to differ. May be the makers of the movie want to spread this "empowered attitude" in society so that they have more misguided girls to pick from???
Having said that, the movie is eminently watchable and refreshing. Just don't take your kids to watch.