'Arike' is a keenly observed portrait on the mechanics of falling in and out of love. In crafting this lovely film, Shyamaprasad keeps clatter and clang at bay, and instead takes delight in gently unraveling the ultimate oddity that has had men and women dancing to its tunes for ages - love, that at times seems so near, and at others, so far.
Anuradha (Mamta Mohandas) is looked upon as a 'lady of mystery' by Shanthanu (Dileep), who happens to be in love with her best friend Kalpana (Samvrutha Sunil). The reason behind Shanthanu's apprehension is the total disregard for love and men in general, that Anuradha harbors somewhere deep inside.
'Arike' is a simple film that endeavors to tackle one of the most obscure of human emotions. It is never in a rush to deliver its goods, nor does it draw on mind-boggling conversational pieces to drive a point. Amidst plenty of blushes and giggles that the two girl friends share, there lies the sort of a movie that is bound to remain wedged into your memory much longer that you expect it to be!
The men in Anuradha's life have often stunned her. She has been nurturing for long, the bitterness that a man, who could never keep his promise to her, had left in her heart. She is often oblivious to the male attention that her single status bestows on her, and when she occasionally realizes it, her hostility is aggravated even further. It's with disgust that she ignores the playful advances of a bunch of men at the beach. There is only resentment in her when a neighbor, who is in no way flirtatious, offers her a gift that she is quick to reject.
And yet, she admits being a woman who wants a man to fall desperately in love with her, so that she could then turn down his passionate appeals without another thought! This is a revelation that further throws light on the peculiar relationship that she shares with Anjan, a young boy who has an older woman fixation on her, and who has no intention to give up whatsoever. She doesn't abhor him surprisingly, and though often pitted against each other in emotional tussles, their daggers are seldom stained with blood.
It's funny really, because Anuradha who is seen more as an enigma by Shanthanu and the rest of the men around her is not as intricate as she is made out to be, while Kalpana, the seemingly transparent girl in a terrible hurry to get married, turns out to be a silk worm that has just about started building its cocoon. The fly that emerges out of it isn't one that we have seen, and as she flutters away spreading her new found wings, we can only look on in amazement.
I have seen this film twice already, fervently hoping that I would be able to focus more on the other two players who strive to pull this tale across on to two different tangents, and I should admit I have failed. Repeatedly, it's Anuradha who occupies the center stage of this love tale for me, and ironically, it's her occupying the fringes of it as well.
One of the best scenes in the film, would however belong to neither Shanthanu, nor Kalpana or Anuradha, but to Guruji (Madambu Kunjikkuttan) whose services are sought to make Kalpana give up her romantic aspirations. Mouthing some of the best one-liners in the film, the fire brand Guruji in no time makes her parents see sense, and validates that the title bestowed on him, is for once, appropriate.
Perhaps I have never walked out of a cinema hall as impressed by an actor's performance as I have after 'Arike' and as much as I have known what a fabulous performer Mamta Mohandas could be, the film and this remarkable actor still had in store so many surprises for me. There are a million instances in 'Arike' that would have you gaping in amazement at the non-methodical and charmingly spontaneous manner in which Mamta gives life to Anuradha. 'Arike' could easily brag of an achingly dazzling performance from the actor, which should undoubtedly be her career best as yet.
Dileep and Samvrutha Sunil are extremely comfortable playing their respective roles, and the supporting actors give it their best as well. Chitra Iyer is a revelation, and there are a few scenes in the film that spring to life, thanks to her vivaciousness. I also don't remember having seen Vineeth in as appropriate a role as the one in this film. He is incredibly good in a cameo.
Azhagappan's no-nonsense, straight to the point frames capture the multiple tones of this romance admirably well. Ouseppachan's music is a soothing additive even in moments of emotional turbulence, and Sohel Sanwari's sync sound recording lends a delightfully realistic feel to the proceedings!
'Arike' tells a perfectly executed short story that is delivered with clarity and clout by a film maker, determined to keep us consistently engaged. The narrative simplicity of this character driven romance is not that commonplace, which is why, 'Arike' qualifies for an exhilarating watch!