Monday Malayalam: Sahayathrikakku Snehapoorvam, Cute Set-Up and Failed Execution

See, this is what happens when no one is commenting, I get depressed and watch random not very good films.  Although Kunchacko did his best to cheer me up.  But that was countered by the heroine Kavya Madhavan, an actress I was really liking until I looked up who she was and learned she is (maybe) a terrible human being.  But even so, I have to admit she did a wonderful job in this film.  This very uneven film.

This is one of those “not as good as it could be but considerably better than the worst it could have been” films.  Because it came out right when Malayalam film was pulling out of the duldrums and it definitely feels more like the new good films than the old bad ones.  Sure, the plot doesn’t quite make sense, and there is a very disturbing tonal shift right at the end, but there are also clever little light comedy bits that feel distinctive 2000s, not like the kind of comedy that was around in the 80s and early 90s, and way better than the strange failed comedy of the few bad films I saw from the late 90s.

Against my wishes, I also really liked the stars.  Well, Kunchacko I liked with my wishes, he’s great and deserves to be loved at all times.  But Kavya Madhavan, with her little face and sticking out ears, she won me over and I really didn’t want to be won over!  But I couldn’t help it.  Just a charming actress.

Kunchacko is a little older than in Niram and a lot older than in Aniyathipraavu .  His sweet round baby face is beginning to transition to more of an awkward in between round face.  But his innocent young mannerisms are still perfectly on point.  Completely bought this couple as young and in love and not terribly mature.

The problem came up when they stopped being young and in love and not terribly mature, and become all full of sturm and drang and misery and melodrama.  I can enjoy melodrama as much as anyone else, but I like melodrama that feels like it has some emotional basis to it, like it grew naturally from the rest of the narrative.  This is just some strange thing grafted on to our sweet love story with little connective tissue.

But it was still worth watching the film because of the real reason I wanted to see it, the backstage drama of the early years of satellite television!  That’s the setting for all this cute romance and then, later, over the top melodrama.  And I feel like I did get to have the bits I wanted from that, I saw the rough world of the new industry, how it interacted with older artistic traditions, how it was both immoral and moral in its own way, and so on and so on.  That was neat.  That was worth it.  But otherwise, not really.  So if you are in the mood for a 90s romance with cute Kunchacko, and you are interested in learning more about the early years of Indian satellite television, you can watch this movie.  But if you are not interested in Indian satellite television, and if you find yourself creeped out by watching Kavya Madhavan onscreen, don’t bother.  Just read the SPOILERS following here.

 

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

 

 

The opening is really clever, and gave me high expectations for the film, which ended up not panning out.  A heroine is dragged off by the “bad guys”, the hero goes to rescue her, there is a fight, it is all very dramatic!!!  And then the director yells “cut!”  And everyone stops, and the hero (Kunchacko) complains that the bad guy hit him too hard, the bad guy apologizes, Kavya runs up to ask how long it is going to shoot this simple scene, and then Kunchacko borrows the keys from the “bad guy” for his motorcycle to take Kavya home.

It felt like the opening of Niram, like a conscious statement that this would not be the usual type of film, it would be new and modern and beyond these simple fight scenes and drama.  And even male-female dynamics since Kavya is clearly the boss of the shoot.  But then all of that cleverness slowly drifts away, like they just got bored with all the energy involved in being clever.

(Also, cute songs!)

It stays clever for a good long while, long enough to pull me in and get me well involved with the characters, so that I couldn’t pull out when it got stupid.  Kunchacko’s father is as film made as he is and secretly encourages him, down to showing up on the same TV serial set as Kunchacko dressed as the old beggar character.  Until Kunchacko’s older brother shows up and both of them run and hide from him because they know he will yell at them for being film mad.

Kavya’s household is similarly silly.  As is their acting collective.  They are trying to hold a meeting on whether or not they should keep doing the serial but Kavya isn’t there to be president.  Kunchacko sneaks off to call her, she is stuck at home with her nutty artist father.  He is drinking and talking to his pictures as though they are people.  Kunchacko and Kavya join in his fantasy and cheer him up.  Kavya’s house is a little less happy than Kunchacko’s, her mother is never around and her sister’s husband looks down on them, but it is still more comedic than tragic.

It’s still comedic when Kavya and Kunchacko find out they are both up for the same satellite TV channel job.  They talk to Kavya’s father and decide not to tell the TV channel that they know each other, to sincerely compete, and then as soon as one of them gets the job, they will get married.  Doesn’t matter who.

There are funny bits with them pretending not to know each other.  And then there are funny bits where we see all the fake news created by the channel, the humorous introduction they get to the cut throat TV business.

(Although Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani still does a better job with the TV backstage plots)

All of that is great!  And then about 2/3rds through the film the writer must have gone “wait!  Conflict!  I forgot to write that in!”  He could have chosen to create conflict naturally out of character choices and personalities, but that would be so difficult!  Much easier to just randomly throw in melodrama for no reason.

So Kavya’s father dies.  And then her estranged artistic brother shows up.  And her sister’s husband demands money and sends her back to her mother until he gets it.  And so suddenly Kavya really really needs the TV job.  At the same time, suddenly Kunchacko’s father runs out of money and they lose their house.  So Kunchacko really really needs the job.

But, didn’t they see this coming?  Or, to put it another way, didn’t they see the future when none of this would matter?  They both knew their families were struggling for money.  What happened to the reasonable “we’ll just wait and get married after one of us gets the job and solve the problem then” plan?  Why would that no longer work?  Besides the necessity for inventing conflict?

It’s not totally invented.  We already knew that Kavya’s mother was superficial and only interested in money.  And that there was stress with her brother-in-law.  And that she missed her older brother.  And Kunchacko’s older brother kept nagging him to get a job and contribute to the struggling household.  I will forgive the sudden death of Kavya’s father, that’s a permissible level of drama.  But losing the house, her sister’s marriage breaking up, her brother reappearing, that is TOO MUCH.  One of these things, sure, but not all three!  Kunchacko, losing the house, that’s a bit TOO MUCH too.  I just needed a bit more explanation for it, that his father made bad investments or had sudden medical bills or something, not just that out of the blue they were losing everything.

And even if you accept all this conflict, why does it mean they had to break up?  Why doesn’t it mean that they shared their troubles and came up with a plan together?  I guess because it was an hour to the end of the movie and they needed some kind of conflict.

And then it gets really stupid!  Kunchacko and his producer do a stake out at a drug den and win the competition for the job.  Kavya is upset and runs out, Kunchacko thinks it is because of the job, but it’s because her estranged artist brother is a DRUG ADDICT!!!!!  And was in the background of the recording.  Now, really?  REALLY????

(Was Akshaye also secretly a drug addict?  If not, what is happening in this song?)

First, her brother is a drug addict?  That came out of nowhere!  Second, Kunchacko really didn’t recognize him at all?  He never saw a picture, never bumped into him around the house?  And third, her brother JUST HAPPENED to be there while Kunchacko was recording at the drug den????

And then the big REALLY is that Kavya tells Kunchacko why she doesn’t want the film broadcast, but Kunchacko doesn’t tell anyone at the channel the reason, just asks for it not to be played.  Couldn’t he at least say “I was told anonymously that a relative of an employee is in the shot”?  Or heck, just say “I realized that we had caught innocent drug addicts in the background while running a sting on evil drug dealers and it would be wrong to broadcast it.”  But he doesn’t say any of that, so the film runs, and Kavya’s brother KILLS HIMSELF.

The message is all confused at this point.  Is it that media is evil?  Or that their love is cursed?  Or drugs are bad?  I am pretty sure “drugs are bad” is in there somewhere.  But not clear on the “media is evil” part of it.  Because everyone at the station is real apologetic when they find out they ruined Kavya’s family.  Which isn’t enough for me, personally, in the audience.  Do they only care because Kavya’s brother was caught in the film?  Broadcasting the faces of drug addicts is fine otherwise?  But I guess that is the lesson, satellite TV is a silly crazy business but ultimate filled with nice people.

And I guess their love isn’t cursed either, because Kunchacko gives up the job so Kavya can have it and when she finds out, she forgives him and they are back together.  There’s also a flashback to her saintly dead father who made them promise that the job wouldn’t change them, which almost ties everything together, but not really.  They end back where they began, happy and in love and joking, and that whole “my father died and my brother killed himself” thing is just forgotten.

It’s a failed movie, is what I am saying.  Cute romance, interesting setting, and then they just didn’t know what to do with it.

But hey, now I’ve seen a Kavya Madhavan movie!  So I can cross that off my list of experiences.

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27 thoughts on “Monday Malayalam: Sahayathrikakku Snehapoorvam, Cute Set-Up and Failed Execution

  1. You dont need to track all kunjakko films. Swapnakoodu,kasthuriman and ‘narendran makan jayakanthan vaka’ are the only remaining good films in his 1st phase of career.rest are poor films and thats why his career took a setback.

    Can u say which were the bad comedy films of 90s u saw?

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    • I don’t even remember. It wasn’t on purpose, it was because they were available from the library, or through Netflix, they weren’t recommended to me. And then I watched them, and they were terrible.

      Like

  2. Agree totally with the above comment regarding Kunchacko films…
    If you were to watch some of the Dileep films, he’s likely to win you over as well. In general, you can assume that none of the actors in Malayalam are saintlay – just enjoy the characters they play 🙂
    Anyway, as a guy who looks forward to every Tuesday mornings to read the “Monday Malayalam” post of your’s, please find below a few recommendations. I’ve no idea if any of this is available in Hotstar – maybe later in the week I can give you a more intelligent list…
    The IFFK (starting 9-Dec) is going to have a special section this year called “Avalkkoppam” – “#WithHer” – a way of saying that they stand with the attacked actress. They’ll be showcasing some of the Malayalam films that had much talked about female characters.
    If it interests you, here’s the list :-
    ***
    Kallichellamma (P. Bhaskaran, 1969), Kuttiyedathi (P.N. Menon, 1971), Avalude Raavukal (I.V. Sasi, 1978), Adaminte Vaariyellu (K.G. George, 1983), Desadanakkili Karayarilla (Padmarajan, 1986), Alicinte Anweshanam (T.V. Chandran, 1989), and Parinayam (Hariharan, 1994).
    ***

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  3. Here is the list of malayalam films to watch in hotstar: (Not the complete list but from the first pages in hotstar)

    Prithviraj: Memories, Nandanam (Prithviraj’s first release), Swapna Koodu (Also starring Jayasuriya and kunchako boban), Ananthabadhram, Vashtavam, Chakram

    Dulquer Salman: Samsaram Aarogyathinu Haanikaram ( Also Starring Nazriya Nazim and Madhoo who starred in Roja, Bombay, Film was big flop but its different movie and could watch it)

    Nivin Pauly: Oru Vadakkan Selfie

    Manju Warrier: Rani Padmini, Summer in Bathleham (Must watch also starring Jayaram, Suresh Gopi and Mohanlal), Daya

    Jayasuriya: Philips and the monkey pen, Beautiful

    Mohanlal: Aaram Thampuram (Also Starring Manju Warrier, Must watch), Pingami, Minnaram (Except the ending, good movie), Chandralekha ( with cameo by anil kapoor remade in hindi as ar Dil Jo Pyar Karega starring Salman Khan with cameo by Sharukh khan (in anil kapoor’s role), Kilukkam (must Watch also starring Revathi in her funniest role), Yodha (Must watch with music by AR Rahman his only malayalam film), Akare akare akare (3rd part of the dasan and vijayan cid series), aye auto, Vietnam Colony, Kariyilakkttu Pole (Also starring Mammootty), Unnikale Oru Kathaparayam, evidam Swargamaanu, Harikrishnans (Also starring Mammootty, Juhi Chawla her only malayalam film), Shobaraj, Gandharvam, Kalaapani ( Must watch also starring Tabu, Amrish Puri, Prabhu), Mukham, Boeing Boeing (Also starring mukesh, remake of the english film of the same name), Butterflies, No 20 madras mail (Also starring Mammootty, must watch)

    Mammootty: Samrajyam, Varsham, Manu Uncle (A cute funny kids movie with also cameos from Mohanlal and a hillarious cameo by suresh gopi), Azhakiya Ravanan, Iyer the great, Ee Thanutha Veluppan Kalathu (Also starring Suresh gopi), Loud Speaker, Yavanika, Sainyam, Mazhayethum Munpe, Kottayam Kunjachan (Mammootty), Adikurrippu

    Other Heroes: Rakshadikari Baiju (Biju Menon, Aju Varghese), Adi Kapyare Koottamani ( Dhyan Sreenivasan, Aju Varghese), Vellimoonga (Biju Menon, Aju Varghese), Kunji Ramayanam ( Vineeth Sreenivasan, Dyan Sreenivasan, Aju Varghese), Sandesham (Jayaram, Sreenivasan), CID Unnikrishnan BA Bed (Jayaram), God Father (Mukesh, original version of hulchal, must watch), Manasinnakara (Jayaram), Kakkothi kaaville appoppan (Revathi), Chinthavishtayaya Shyamala (Sreenivasan), Ramji Rao Speaking (Mukesh, original version of Hera Pheri, must watch), In Hari haranagar (Mukesh, must watch), Puthukkottayile Puthumanavalan (Jayaram), Aayushkalam (Jayaram, Mukesh), Arabikadha (sreenivasan with extended cameo from jayasuriya, indarajith), Aniyan Bava Chetan Bava (Jayaram), Thoovalsparsham (Jayaram, Mukesh, Suresh Gopi), Akkare Ninnoru Maran, Chakkikotha Chankaran(Jayaram), Passenger (Sreenivasan, there is a cameo by dileep if there is a problem with that), Nagarangalil Chennu Raparkkam (Jayram, Sreenivasan), Aanaval Mothiram( Sreenivasan, Suresh Gopi)

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  4. Wow, I remembered nothing about this movie and I had seen it looooong ago.
    Also I don’t think she’s a terrible person most likely a victim of circumstances. Having seen her grow up in movies that’s my opinion.
    Also, you haven’t seen Classmates ? That was quite the cult classic with Prithiviraj indrajith and Jayasuriya too.
    Nandanam is a genuinely sweet movie. Also until I read your comment never thought of PR’s acting in it as the story isn’t centered around him. He was alright though now that I think about it.

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    • If the Classmates comment was for me, yes I have seen it! Ages back. It was one of the better films from that era, I thought. If you check the Film Reviews list, you should see my review.

      On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 10:17 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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      • Will check it out. In this review you mentioned that you’ve finally watched a Kavya movie .. so wondered if you hadn’t watched her in classmates. Definitely one of the better movies of the time like you said.

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        • Wait, that was her in Classmates? How did I not know that? Gah!!!! I am still so lost in Malayalam film!!!!! It’s so frustrating compared to how at home I feel in Hindi.

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  5. Haven’t seen this movie but remember the song Alasa Kolasa pennu. Kunchacko did really well in songs//dances. That sort of undid his career initially as well, only remembered for those songs/dances until Traffic came along.

    Could you review Godfather and Vandam? Gems from the 90s 🙂

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    • I know it’s a bad reason, but I’ve been avoid Godfather because I just love Hulchul so gosh darn much and I don’t want to compare it with anything else.

      Vandam I might watch, if you can promise me it isn’t as horribly depressing as Chitram!

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      • Ohh right you’ve reviewed Hulchul. But what I like about the Malayalam version is that the love or rather hate story is between the patriarchs of the family – which wasn’t as well explored in the Hindi version or rather didn’t like Lakshmi so much in it. Romeo and Juliet are just a part of the proceedings.

        Vandanam is a little depressing at the end, but Mohanlal was so awesome! I think the theme in Malayalam films those days was “tears means a hit!”.

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  6. Hello Margaret,

    Here’s my list of Malayalam films from Hotstar.
    (In the order as it appears in Hotstar, and the same spelling)

    ==========================================================================
    All time classics (the kind of stuff you must watch if you were ever to write a book on Malayalam films in future) :-
    ==========================================================================

    #Sandhesam : Comedy film, and you may not enjoy it fully – but rated #5 in “Top rated Malayalam films” in IMDB

    #Nadodikkattu : Another comedy – rated #4 in the same list

    #Nirmalyam – Probably the gutsiest Malayalam film ever. Won plenty of National Awards

    ==========================================================================
    Not so classics, but by excellent script writers/directors.
    ==========================================================================

    P. Padmarajan list – you’ve already seen his films: Innale, Thoovanathumbikal & Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal. Here’s the others available on Hotstar (all of his movies are great!)

    >Njan Gandharvan
    >Koodevide
    >Moonnampakkam

    M.T. Vasudevan Nair – LEGEND!!! Can’t speak more. His wiki page is worth a look (especially the “Awards and Honours” section) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._T._Vasudevan_Nair
    None of these are classics unfortunately, but then this guy never made anything average

    >Midhya
    >Sukrutham
    >Thazhvaram

    K.G. George – One of the guys who revolutionized Malayalam films. Made films that were commercially successful and artistically good.

    > Lekhayude Maranam Oru Flashback
    > Yavanika

    ==========================================================================
    The others which you might find interesting – only based on reading your reviews for the past year or so
    ==========================================================================

    #Nokketha Doorathu Kannumnattu – Nadiya Moidu’s first film (who I know you love based on some review) + 80’s Mohanlal

    #Oru CBI Diary Kurippu – The first in the CBI series which i think you’ve been tracking for some time

    #Kilukkam – Comedy with a superb performance by Revathy + the others. Maybe it might inspire you to watch the Hindi remake as well.

    #Ee Puzhayum Kadannu – Manju Warrier – the movie that made her a star (also stars Dileep).

    #Vellimoonga – Biju Menon, his first film for you?

    #Chattakkari – Julie’s original

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    • Thank you so much! Especially for the heads up about the CBI film. I’m one of those people who has to watch a series in order and it’s been killing me that I haven’t seen the first one.

      I love Hotstar, but they really need a better search function, it’s infuriating that I can’t search by star or actor, I have to rely on you nice people to tie those together with the film titles.

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  7. I like to recommend few movies:
    1) Akashadoothu(1993)
    2) Vaishali(1988)
    3) Moonapakkam(1988)
    4) Dhruvam(1993)
    5) Thulabharam- it’s a movie from black and white era. It is a movie centred around the heroine.
    6) kazhcha(2003)
    7) kanamarayathu(1984)

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  8. I like to recommend few movies:
    1) Akashadoothu(1993)
    2) Vaishali(1988)
    3) Moonapakkam(1988)
    4) Dhruvam(1993)
    5) Thulabharam- it’s a movie from black and white era. It is a movie centred around the heroine.
    6) kazhcha(2003)
    7) kanamarayathu(1984)

    Like

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