Saajan Bakery Malayalam Movie Review
Saajan Bakery Since 1962 is the sort of family film that glides along for the most part, entertains, and ends up losing its focus slightly. It has a slightly weird beginning, a very entertaining middle portion (that is about 70% of the movie) and a bit strange ending.
The main story is about Aju Varghese's Bobin and Lena's Betsy, siblings with a lot of personal differences. At the start of the film, we are told that Betsy has been living separately for a year or so, and that Bobin is not amused by it. With a rocking marital situation of his own, his plan is to go to Australia and settle there. But for that, he needs to see an end to Betsy's marriage problem and see her as a more-settled woman.
Bobin is a slightly amoral, responsibility-shirking guy who would go to any extent to affect his sister's life. That offers some of the film's light-hearted and amusing moments between the brother and sister. For a seemingly nice guy, Bobin has a deep prejudice against women, including even his sister. That explains why he talks about his girlfriend Merin's past alleged affair while having a date with her. It also explains why he suspects the sanctity of Betsy when she leaves the house in the daytime and returns at midnight.
Their alcoholic uncle Cherian (Ganesh Kumar) is often frustrated by their quarrels and by Bobin's lack of concern for their family business, the bakery at the heart of this film. Ganesh Kumar is really chilled out after a long time in a Malayalam film, and he acts quite naturally in scenes where he enters a high mental state. It is in Cherian's body language that he has been through a failed marital life, and we realize that before the movie even spells it out for us. That is due to the brilliance of Ganesh Kumar the actor. There are many hilarious moments featuring him and the siblings. And, what a nice touch it is to integrate food into a story like this in a way that does not seem forced.
Lena is also a terrific performer. She brings out the emotional complexity of Betsy with ease here. Aju Varghese complements his two senior actors quite well, and he has dialled up the charm quotient by a few notches here. Aju makes many aspects of the character work, like his tendency to avoid responsibility, his sheer love for food, lack of business sense, and stupidity. His involvement in this film is a brilliant piece of casting. The same could be said about Jaffar Idukki as a bakery store owner.
Now, here is the problem part. The makers of Saajan Bakery seem to be unsure about whether to make it a film about the siblings or Bobin's coming-of-age. Writer-director Arun Chandu does a lot of the difficult parts correctly here, but he falters at the film's most crucial moments. You get what he is trying to do with Ranjita Menon's Merin, but it is one character who sticks out like a sore thumb here. Ranjita's fourth-wall break moments here are unwelcome distractions to the charming brother-sister story. Prashant Pillai has some nice melody songs in the film, even though most of those are untimely inclusions. You may see Saajan Bakery on Amazon Prime Video.