Ayisha Malayalam Movie
In Theaters: INDIA
Ayisha is a story based on a real-life character called Nilambur Ayisha, who had to work as a domestic help at an Arab palace between her acting years. Ayisha has acted in many films and plays, but the movie focuses mainly on her days as a Gaddama in the Middle East. It is not easy to work as a domestic help in the UAE, as it means spending a good part of one's life indoors. You will instantly recognize the sense of detachment that Ayisha (Manju Warrier) feels as Aabith (Krishna Shankar) drives her to the palace for the first time. As their car nears the palace, there is virtually nobody on the streets, and you sense that Ayisha's life is slipping away from her grasp.
Early days at the palace are not easy for Ayisha, as it keeps her detached from society. The Arabs at the palace initially treat her as an accessory. It is only when Ayisha starts tolerating the outbursts of Mama, the diabetic mother in the family, that some of the family members start to realize that she is a lifesaver. Soon, Ayisha becomes the go-to aide of Mama, inviting the ire of some of the insinuating family members.
There is ample scope for a poignant drama in this material, but writer Ashif Kakkodi and director Aamir Pallikkal only build a soapy, TV serial-like drama out of it. There is novelty and sincerity in the story, in addition to a genuine sense of admiration for the real-life character. A couple of meta touches explaining what it means to be an actor work well, primarily because Manju Warrier is good in those scenes. However, most of the actors cast in the non-Malayali roles are so incompetent that their performances prove cringe-worthy. They all perform like they are reading out their lines from memory instead of expressing their feelings. This is evident, especially in the Mama character. As a result, we do not really feel a lot for the relationships that the makers try to build here.
There is also an attempt to show how domestic helpers from diverse backgrounds form an amicable relationship when working for a common cause, but the acting never allows the film to soar above the soapy level. That said, I do understand the possible casting challenges that the makers must have faced here, especially with regard to the non-Asian characters. Radhika is the only other actor with a reasonably long role whom you would at least like to listen to in Ayisha.
There are a couple of untimely songs in Ayisha that serve little purpose other than lengthening the movie. There is also an element of predictability in the climax. Even TV serials can be more unpredictable than this movie.