Aanandam full movie review - Feel-Good Movie Of The Year 2016. ♦ Grade C+
Every year, Malayalam cinema throws Frisbees at you. Frisbees that celebrate life and all things associated, and encourage you to live life to the fullest and with empathy and joy.
In 2015, we had Oru Vadakkan Selfie, Premam, Chirakodinja Kinavukal, and Charlie to name a few. This year, we have "Aanandam".
A group of sophomore year college students are planning an industrial visit as part of their Engineering course curriculum. Varun (Arun Kurian) is the most mature person of the lot, and is thus, assigned the task to manage the whole 4-day trip. He is part of a smaller group of friends (the stars of the film) which consists of Gautham (Roshan Mathew), a metal band front-man and headbanger who wears everything black and is the cynosure of female attention; his girlfriend of few months, Devika (Annu Antony), who fell in love with Gautham mostly due to his interests in Metallica and Gothic stuff; Kuppi (Vishak Nair), the singleton who considers all situations comically; Darshana (Anarkali Marikar), a hardcore creative and a recluse, Dia (Siddhi Mahajankatti), the rich girl and the female contemporary of Gautham; and lastly, Akshay (Thomas Mathew), the decent-looking guy who is in love with Dia. The story essentially follows the lives of these seven characters as they set out for their IV with their classmates to Hampi and Goa.
Why the film is feel-good is evident from the first frame itself. Produced by Vineeth Sreenivasan's home production, Habit of Life, it uses a light-hearted narrative to usher the audience into the lives of these characters as they begin an important phase of their young lives. Even though the humor looks (and is) forced at start, it slowly begins to gel in to the narrative. It cannot be called slapstick, per se, but Nair should be blamed if it does feel like the partially contrived story is swerving into that territory. Multiple love songs with short intervals in both halves also points to the fact that the story, if at all, is woven around the characters' feelings and experience and idiosyncrasies, which is picturised in few 5- minute montages. One will definitely feel the urge to visit the beautiful place Hampi after experiencing it through Anend Chandran's camera. And if you are a person who had a similar gang of buddies while in college, it will make things even better as a trek down memory lane is guaranteed.
The cast performance is mostly decent and convincing with the only exceptions being Kurian and Antony, who will need some acting lessons if they are to climb the ladder. We have seen Roshan Mathew before, and he does it right here, too, along with promising newcomers, Nair and Thomas Mathew. The supporting cast is also fine, with Rony and Vinitha Koshy ante-ing up the delight element. The cast is one big family on-screen who evince their cool mannerisms in the right way, ultimately entertaining you with their dialogues, delivery, and air.
All in all, it's a delightful ride that needs to (and can) be experienced by both the young and the young at heart. The lack of a proper story should not come in the way as the film makes it up with short fables about life and how one can live it. Additionally, there is a lot of cliché stitched into the characters with the narrative hitting monotony at parts, but that shouldn't affect the experience either because feel-goodness comes with a certain cost. The cost of not being novel. A pleasing cameo towards the end acts as a cherry on the top of this cake that is inarguably one of the top 15 cinematic preparations of the year.
BOTTOM LINE: Ganesh Raj's "Aanandam" is a feel-good movie with the right doses of comedy and romance, which will lift you up for one full day. What you do after totally depends on you and how you look at life, but the film definitely has few tips. Book a low-cost weekend ticket (use the Paytm offer if you are in Mumbai) and enjoy this with your friends and family.
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES