I was very thrilled when Manju Warrier announced her comeback and like any other fan, I waiting for the film’s release. What a comeback it was! The movie not only spoke about Nirupama’s inspiring transformation but it was also a statement given to the audience about her comeback.
Nirupama (Manju Warrier) leads a boring life with her husband Rajeev (Kunchacko Boban) and daughter Lakshmi (Amrita Anil). She is a typical Malayali wife, doing her daily chores from household work, office work, helping daughter and leading a joint family with her in-laws. A visibly bored Rajeev gets an opportunity to go Ireland but Nirupama is denied the same due to her age, disappointing her daughter. She is a victim of age restrictions suffered by women, from facing comments to perceptions which described her as her husband’s elder sister. But then, a moment changed her life, for worse and for better.
As a woman, who was simply presented with Malayalam films with cliched themes and plotlines where women are subjugated in hypermasculine contexts, how old are you was a big relief for me. This is exactly the film new generation needs. Manju Warrier played a woman who went from ordinary to extraordinary; she is motivated by both men and women in her life, notably Susan David (Kaniha), her best friend from college. Susan offers her the push as Nirupama was in a state of inertia, thus making a perfect example for her daughter. I have always admired Rosshan Andrrew’s direction which delivered a message in a different tone. Andrrews also directed a proto-feminist film earlier, Notebook. How old are you is the perfect feminist film of recent times as it is devoid of usual cliches related to a woman’s power in the society. The film passed Bechdel test as Nirupama was motivated by two women to go ahead in life. The first half shows the life of a typical woman while second half takes a turn with Nirupama’s empowerment.
Nirupama exercises daily, leads a business, inspires social change and her all hard work finally gives her the identity in the society and in her house where her father-in-law prepares tea and food while she works and neighbors help in her business. We see her question and challenge the usual roles of women and takes firm stands before those who attempted to expire her dreams. Finally, her husband and daughter support her.
There is lagging here and there that might create drowsiness and several abhorrent comic instances, for eg: Nirupama showing off before her co-workers and locals about the president’s invitation. Manju Warrier is steadfast and expressive but the showoff scenes digressed from the theme itself. Kunchacko Boban is very natural and delivered adept performance. Amritha Anil was annoying at times and her character, in spite of being shown as disappointed or rebellious, is disrespectful. The reason why she remained mum when Nirupama begged for the question she asked (which earned her president’s invitation) is not clear. Rosshan Andrrews, who is known for creating instances for the audience to make out, failed here as we will assume that Lakshmi wanted to hurt Nirupama intentionally or due to her selfishness. Kunjan, who delivered controlled performance as Nirupama’s father in law, is a loyal character. Vinay Forrt is adorable and far from his “Java” speech in Premam. My favorite person from the movie is Susan David and Kaniha tried to show off her best but irregular speech patterns were visible. Technically the film could have been better with cinematographical and editing inputs. The movie is gift from the makers for women but then, it lacked the punch in terms of direction. That is where 36 vayadhinile succeeded in a way. Malayalam makers has to improve more in terms of technicals. Watch this movie for Manju Warrier’s comeback.
Featured image: Cochin Talkies