After 2 failed attempts to get tickets, I managed to watch Premam last week It was running (and continues to do so) to full theatres within and outside Kerala, and the rave reviews I’d been hearing made me determined to watch it at any cost.
I sat through the movie, smirked a few times, sniggered a little, and came out. Next to me, SR was raving.
“How much would you rate it?” I asked.
“4.5!” he said, happily. I remained quiet.
“What, you didn’t like it?”
“It was okay.”
That was it. Premam was just okay – funny and sweet in parts, but not mind blowingly awesome as I had been led to believe. And I am part of a target group who should have been predisposed to liking Premam. I fulfill both the essential criteria:
(1) I am a fan of Nivin Pauly
(2) I generally like coming-of-age and friend circle movies
Yet, the movie is exactly what its poster claims: it has nothing new!
But I am not going to dish it on that argument alone. Here are some of the other things that are off in Premam.
For me, the Mary story line dragged. It had one too many songs and one too many weird shots of the road in front of the tea shop, and one too many scenes of the angry dad chasing various boys away. (They could have cut this short by 15 minutes-at least-and used it to develop the Celine story. But more on that later) And if they had shown one more shot of Mary stroking her vaikol thuru hair, I would have had to rip my own out (whatever is left of it!)
I’m not saying that all of us have to display signs of our calling in life from a young age. But really, for 60% of the movie -in fact, until George graduates from college – would you have guessed that he would become a pastry chef running a posh upmarket cafe?
To me, the cafe setting seemed like something fit in forcefully just to provide a beautiful meet-cute for Celine and George. The George we had seen so far had been genuine and ordinary – this suave pastry chef, with his perpetually frowning eyebrows and orders barked at his staff, felt like a complete stranger.
You would expect a 30 year old man -who’s already been scarred once in a love affair- to be a little more cautious when falling in love with a girl he had last seen as a kid, and for all intents and purposes, as a kid sister. Wouldn’t you expect him to take some time to get to know Celine, and then slowly realize that she’s no longer a kid, but a woman he’s fascinated by?
But no – the director’s already given too much reel time to George’s first love, and is in a hurry to wrap up the movie. So, the Celine plot line is lazily developed, and too much happens in too little time. The treatment is shallow, and therefore, this relationship – the supposedly perennial one in George’s life – feels the most hollow. Quite unfortunate.
There were other little touches that could have made a difference, but were missing in the movie -for instance, Mary and her dad are conspicuously absent at George and Celine’s wedding; What happens to Vimal sir? I always thought he would end up proposing to Anjali, the girl he used to keep telling “Doubt undengil parayanam!”
But I can live without these.
What works for me in Premam is Nivin Pauly’s acting – the man definitely has screen presence, and how he can pull off any look and age is just amazing. 1983, OSO, Bangalore Days, and now this… he is certainly here to stay.
Sai Pallavi is well worth all the raving – she has screen presence and her simple charm is thankfully unmasked by layers of makeup. The chemistry between the duo also certainly works.
The boyhood friendship that grows (without maturing!) over time is also done brilliantly. The actors, the banter, the songs… all of it work.
By itself, Premam isn’t a bad movie at all. But like all things overhyped, it falters under the weight of expectation.
And while we are making controversial statements, let me add a few more I’ve been bottling up inside.
Manju Warrier’s best role is not Unnimaya in Aaram Thampuran. (If anyone’s interested, it is Aami in Summer in Bethlehem. More on that in another post)
ARR’s music in OK Kanmani is just about average. The songs don’t grate on your ears, but they are eminently forgettable.
Drishyam is a good thriller and worth a watch, but I don’t see what the bruhaha is about. (And Meena did a terrible job, just as she did in Katha Parayumbol.)
There, I said it!