Kanakam Kamini Kalaham Malayalam Movie

Feature Film | 2021 | UA | 2h 1min
Almost every scene in writer-director Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval's 'Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham' is meant for laughs. The movie on Disney+ Hotstar is a satire that does not take itself too seriously. The film has hit-and-miss gags as well as fine performances across the board.
Nov 14, 2021 By Sreejith Mullappilly

Virtually every scene in writer-director Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval's 'Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham' is meant for laughs. It is a social comedy that does not take itself too seriously, which is both its inherent strength and weakness.

Pavithran (Nivin Pauly) is a junior actor who does bit roles in films while pretending to be a method actor and even running an acting school. Pavithran is in a dysfunctional marital relationship with Grace Antony's Haripriya, a serial artist with more acting credentials than him. Pavithran looks down upon his wife's acting skills, often labeling her as a serial artist. He uses her for his advantage, so he must keep up with the farce of being husband and wife.

But there is a jewelry problem that affects their relationship, as Pavithran pawned and lost a pair of earrings that belonged to Haripriya. She says that she is sad about not having it because it is a piece of heirloom jewelry. To appease her and get back to her life again, Pavithran buys a fresh pair of earrings for her and takes her to Munnar for a vacation. The events in a Munnar hotel make up the rest of the movie.

Now, there are many things about this hotel that make it somewhat interesting, including visual elements. The staffers and other people at the location are eccentric. There is a novelist, a motivational speaker, a drunkard, and a staffer who recites lines from the work of the writer. There is also an imaginary vulture at the top of the hotel, which says a thing or two about the exploitatory nature of the place. Hotel manager Jobby (Vinay Forrt) is the kind of guy who lovingly orders juice for his female receptionist and then tells her that he would reduce the price for it from her salary.

In making this madcap comedy, Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval makes some good moves and some missteps. One of the best things about the film is the choice of the actors for the respective roles. Jaffar Idukki gets much screen space as drunkard Sura, and the actor makes a meal of the part, even as it gets a tad annoying. As writer Balachandran, Joy Mathew is really good in an emotional scene. Sudheesh makes you laugh even without saying anything outlandish. Vinay Forrt is a hoot. Nivin Pauly is really good as a lazy husband who mistreats his wife but who recognizes that he has his flaws. Nivin is good at hamming it up and has pretty good comic timing. The film's best performance comes from Grace Anthony, who plays a woman raging with jealousy, insecurity and suspicion. In her, we see a woman who wants to break away from her limiting marital life but could not do so due to societal pressure.

Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval's film is a reminder that incompetent actors in reel life are pretty good actors in real life. Even Grace's Haripriya acts a bit in real life.

The writer-director acknowledges Hollywood filmmakers such as Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick here. The name of the hotel, Hilltop Hotel, as well as its frail and eccentric characters, are references to Anderson's filmography. On the other hand, there is a scene with the kid on a bicycle, a nod to Kubrick's psychological horror film entitled 'The Shining'.

Now, I said that the case of the film not taking itself seriously is its strength and weakness. What I mean by it is that the approach does not suit the type of some of the issues that the film addresses, such as casteism. There is also a clunkily staged attempted sexual assault scene here. For an over-the-top comedy movie where performers walk in and out of the frame as in theater, many of the jokes land but some do not. The actors make it watchable nonetheless.

Sreejith Mullappilly