In Midhun Manuel Thomas’s Alamaara (Wardrobe), a newly-wed couple’s life turns into a mess, thanks to a huge wooden wardrobe that the bride’s parents gift them for their wedding. The groom’s family, already miffed with their new relatives, refuse to accommodate the furniture in their family residence. Tension escalates further when the girl puts her foot down and declares that she won’t stay in the marriage unless the furniture is carried all the way from Kerala to the Bangalore apartment where she has just moved in with her husband.
Alamaara is an unintentional tribute to a slice of bygone era in Malayalam cinema. The period when the industry was flooded with films set in conservative middle-class households. In this informal genre of sexist relationship dramas, women are often the root of problems. For one, the commercial hit films directed by multi-faceted Balachandra Menon in 1980s and 1990s, had male protagonists who would mansplain the secrets of a happy married life to their immature, whimsical wife. If she happens to be a tigress with a sense of independence, the man, often played by Menon himself, would tame her using love and sometimes, a whip. When new-age cinema abandoned these characters, the television soaps gladly took them in.
It is surprising that Midhun, who made a promising directorial debut in 2015 with Aadu, decided to make a comedy-drama out of this worn-out plot. The characters and situations are soulless, and the humour is tasteless. For starters, isn’t it bizarre that in this age of compact apartments, a set of upper-middle class parents would gift their daughter a a gigantic wooden wardrobe? There is no reasoning to why Swathi (Aditi), a modern, financially-independent girl, is so fixated with a wardrobe that she lets it ruin her married life. At one point, she wakes her husband, Arun (Sunny Wayne), up in the middle of night to ask when the wardrobe would be delivered.
There are a bunch of supporting characters, equally sketchy, played by actors like Saiju Kurup and Aju Varghese. Aju’s short stature becomes a butt of joke, while Kurup’s character is ridiculed for his ‘downfall’ from a fitness enthusiast to a domesticated husband.
The lack of freshness in the script is compensated to an extent by the unconventional cast. Sunny Wayne, who is known for his rugged looks and the offbeat characters he played in hip movies like Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi and Koothara, plays the protagonist, a nondescript bank employee. Renji Paniker, the yesteryear screenwriter who has to his credit some of the most fiery political dramas in Malayalam, dons the role of Arun’s father, a good-humored villager who quietly puts up with the tantrums that his wife throws regularly. Manikantan, who won the Kerala State Award for the best supporting actor for his role in Rajeev Ravi’s Kammattipadam, plays Arun’s uncle, a staunch RSS man who loves beef and booze. And he, by far, is the saving grace of Alamaara. Whenever Manikantan takes charge, makes a valiant face and says “Bharatmata Ki Jai”, the film becomes slightly watchable. He has an impressive comic timing and fine screen presence.
There is nothing memorable about the film’s music, except how it adds to the clutter that the film already is. For one, in the scene where Arun and his friends are climbing up the staircase, carrying the heavy wardrobe, a loud and chaotic background score plays over the characters’ exchanges. This is repeated several times throughout the film.
Alamaara is an addition to the list of uninspiring and hollow dramas that Mollywood has been churning out of late. It pretends to belong to the new wave of Malayalam cinema, yet lacks any imagination or originality.
The Alamaara 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.