Solid: Aishwarya Lekshmi, Indrans, Ramesh Pisharody
Director: Akhil Anilkumar
One thing tells me that Akhil Anilkumar is a director we must always all be careful for, particularly after we’re witnessing a shift of a selected type of content material onto OTT. His quick in Jeo Child’s anthology Freedom Struggle has already constructed its personal fanbase and it confirmed indicators of nice promise in the way in which he merged a feminist topic with the fragile quirkiness of a lighthearted comedy. You see a whole lot of that tone repeating by means of Archana 31 Not Out, one other feminist take that repurposes the concept marriage is hardly a metaphorical ending line for a girl. Though marriage itself is its central battle (the 31 Not Out represents 31 failed marriage proposals) and probably the most mentioned matter, it treats the topic like how anti-war movies should first focus on struggle. Which signifies that we see hoards of characters who dwell in and round Archana (one other beautiful efficiency by Aishwarya) who’re extra involved about her marriage than she herself is.
In a properly lower, well-thought-out montage, we get glimpses of all the lads Archana has needed to meet earlier than arriving at an inexpensive suitor. This montage is available in a little bit later into the movie and its placement is attention-grabbing as a result of it’s right here that an earlier scene will get its completion. It’s the scene the place we discover a ‘pennu kaanal‘ taking the type of a each day routine prefer it’s a go to to the financial institution or a dialogue with a plumber. A possible suitor cancels his go to to Archana’s home on the final minute, however there’s no closeup displaying a heartbroken woman, damning her destiny for making her the cursed one. She hasn’t even dressed up all that a lot to impress, neither is there a feast being ready for them. After we take heed to Archana chatting with the dealer, it’s simply her inconvenience that’s being conveyed and her annoyance at not being informed earlier. No heartbreak, no complaining.
And this scene too will get its true payoff in a while when Archana talks on the cellphone to Prasad (Lukman), the one man that comes actually near marriage. The identical chilly distance is obvious in the way in which Archana speaks to him over the cellphone and it’s a pleasant little bit of writing that has gone on to this dialogue too. Not solely will we study Prasad’s optimistic angle in direction of Archana discovering a brand new job (she has simply misplaced her short-term one), we additionally collect that he’s the one cooking for himself, hinting on the dream of equality sooner or later. However even right here, although we really feel Archana falling for him, we additionally get a way of the years of disappointment and rejection that has conditioned her to carry again and anticipate little.
All these are nice scenes that make us empathise with a lady who has educated so exhausting to dwell for others that she has forgotten to dwell a little bit. This is the reason we additionally commit so strongly to her thought of not telling anybody when she learns that her fiancé has eloped along with his lover, on the night time earlier than their marriage ceremony. Even right here, it’s to the author’s credit score that Archana’s focus is neither on her personal heartbreak nor on the concept of exacting revenge; it’s the logistics of the marriage that’s consuming her vitality and the accountability of caring for her father. And even this stretch is justified to us as a result of we all know Archana because the woman who must lock herself up in her bed room for only a minute to bounce like loopy as a result of she deserves to really feel a little bit completely happy earlier than her massive day.
But the movie’s rhythm is so off that we really feel misplaced in a sea of hollowness that drowns the advantage of the scenes described above. Take the way in which the sequence is built-up to the large interval twist—the information of Prasad eloping. What was till then a pacy comedy, is slowed right down to the purpose the place nothing’s taking place with a set of no person characters that haven’t any bearing on the screenplay. Even after the temper has been set, we discover the movie struggling to provide each character their due significance though what we’d like is simply the phantasm of that. So we get random subplots involving a person insisting on a chunk of hen in his curry, a random Ramesh Pisharody cameo, an indecisive couple that’s all the time selecting, a love story between individuals we hardly know and lots of others that add nothing greater than ambiance to Archana’s plight. But the time spent on every of those strands provides up, taking us away from the one character that actually issues to us.
And that is unusual as a result of the movie is simply 100 minutes lengthy. What may basically have been a fair shorter movie, feels outstretched with an inefficient provide chain of characters and songs that would have simply been exchanged with one or two extra scenes taking us even deeper into Archana’s way of thinking. However with its devotion for all issues quirky which borders on obsession, we’re lacking out on a beautiful lead character and her motivation to face up for the lots of of ladies who wish to say only one factor to the world—‘again off!’