Aayirathonnu Nunakal Malayalam Movie

Feature Film | 2023 | Drama
Director Thamar strikes narrative gold in his first full-length feature film, about how married couples keep skeletons in their closet.
Aug 21, 2023 By Sreejith Mullappilly

Where To Watch:
   Sony LIV

Thamar's "Aayirathonnu Nunakal'' asks both its characters and the audience to consider whether they know and understand their partners well enough. A group of friends accidentally come together at a mansion to celebrate one of their mutual friends' wedding anniversary. The reason for some of their coming together is a "house-on-fire" situation. Things become interesting when a lawyer joins the couple and starts to make insinuating remarks about some of them. "There is no smoke without fire," he says. This eventually leads to a game of truth or dare among the friends. It starts as a playful exercise but soon becomes serious as each of the couples exposes some of their real-life incidents that make their partners uncomfortable.

Aayirathonnu Nunakal is not the first Malayalam movie to use a "truth or dare" game as a narrative device to tell a complex story about marital relationships. For example, a good part of Jeethu Joseph's "12th Man" has a similar conversation involving married couples of an age group comparable to those in Thamar's movie. The revelations in both films share an uncanny resemblance, presumably because there is a pattern to how married couples often keep secrets about each another. Unlike the Jeethu Joseph film, however, Aayirathonnu Nunakal is entirely a drama, although there is a similar intensity to the long conversations. The conversations themselves are really interesting to listen to, as they encompass everything from mutual respect to egos to infidelity.

The film benefits greatly from the relatively unknown cast and the writing. Apart from Remya Suresh and Zhinz Shan, you are likely not familiar with any of the cast members. The movie also stars Shamla Hamza, Vishnu Agasthya, and Ninin Kassim. It is impressive how natural each of their performances appears on screen. Each of the characters' marital fears, tensions, and apprehensions seem palpable thanks to the sheer organic nature of their performances.

From a writing standpoint, too, the movie has nuggets of information showing how couples behave in private and publicly. Notice how personal egos and insecurities drive most of the conflicts that arise from the game. Each new conversation gradually follows one that dials up the level of tension considerably. Even a missing watch fuels an intense conversation that drifts away from the identity of the thief to the integrity and strength of the bonding among the couples. There is also a clever parallel track involving a domestic servant and a contract employee with a great pay-off.

Sreejith Mullappilly