In BR Vijayalakshmi’s Abhiyude Katha, Anuvinteyum, two young lovers, Anu and Abhi, tie the knot without letting their parents know. No, they aren’t on loggerheads with their families. Anu’s mother is her best friend, and Abhi has a set of upper class parents who care for him sincerely. When Anu’s mother comes to know of the wedding, she asks her why she was kept in dark. The daughter replies cheerfully, “You live in a place with no mobile connectivity. How would I let you know!”
For the first time in the digital era, we have a movie where a mother doesn’t get invited to her daughter’s wedding because of poor telephone network.
This is a movie replete with absurd instances and characters who act as though they live in a realm cut off from reality. Also, it has the usual problems that a clumsily made bilingual film suffers from. Dialogues and song lyrics sound juvenile.
In her introductory scene, Anu (Pia Bajpayee) tames a wild elephant by luring it with a bunch of bananas. In another scene, you see her selling farm-grown vegetables in a Kerala small town, dressed in the skimpiest pair of shorts and a spaghetti top, as if she is inside a coke advert. Characters communicate via Facebook videos and Whatsapp chats a lot more than they talk in person. In one of the Facebook videos of Anu, she is in a Cancer clinic, playing hide and seek with a bunch of clueless kids like a perfect Kollywood manic pixie dream girl. She has donated her long curly tresses to a little girl who is undergoing chemotherapy. On camera, Anu says, sitting next to the child, “Poor thing! Look at her, she is in so much pain.” If this doesn’t reek of plastic, what does!
Abhiyude Kadha, Anuvinteyum deals with simple real life situations so clumsily as though the makers have never come across real people in life. In this film which claims to be an unconventional love story, lovers don’t really look like lovers, friends don’t look like friends, and even Facebook doesn’t look like real Facebook. This is unfortunate because the film’s core plot is an utmost complex one that demands a smart and sensitive filmmaking.
Abhimanyu (Tovino Thomas) is an IT professional at a Chennai-based company. His office has a bunch of token characters – a boss (Manobala) whom no one in the office takes seriously, a colleague (Samyukta Hornad) who giggles without a reason and flirts generously with Abhi, and a bunch of nameless co-workers who seem to have no idea why they are in the frame. He falls in love with a Facebook user, Anu, who defines herself as Awareness Near You (slow claps). An archetype social media butterfly, she posts narcissistic videos of herself hugging people and animals, and giving life lessons to the world. Long-winded bland lovestory cut short, Abhi and Anu get married, only to realise their marriage has to face a tough moral test.
It isn’t just the making that turns you off. The film’s content is problematic too. The real question at the heart of this film is about the credibility of relationships in the social media era. Citing the worst case scenario, the film says youngsters on social media are walking a dangerous slippery slope. How would you know who you are really dealing with, it asks. While this concept has the potential to be a tight intriguing film, here it becomes a soppy tale founded on archaic values. Using a childless female character, it glorifies motherhood as life’s greatest gift to womenhood. Marriage transforms the film’s free-spirited modern woman into a perfect traditional housewife who cooks, cleans, and serves the husband.
The film has a mighty cast that comprises of veteran actors like Suhasini, Prabhu and Rohini. None of them get the moments that they deserve. While Tovino delivers a moderately passable performance as Abhi, Pia Bajpayee is a terrible miscast as a small town Malayali girl. She hams it up in light-hearted scenes as well as in sentimental moments. The dubbing artiste (Raveena Ravi) ruins it further, mouthing the dialogues as though Anu is not a human, but an automated software whose overtly honey-coated voice could give you a diabetes.
Abhiyude Katha, Anuvinteyum, with some tweaks, could be passed for a spoof of 90s’ Tamil romantic films that functioned in a bizarre universe where every character was a bland archetype. Audience might have moved to more rooted films with lifelike characters and organic moments, but evidently, there are yet to come to terms with the changed reality.