Ambili (2019) Malayalam Movie Review – Veeyen


‘Ambili’ lacks the beautiful dexterity that had made the director’s ‘Guppy’ a one of a kind experience. But it does pick up the brush and in a few masterful strokes leave a beautiful painting on screen that leaves you all impressed by the artful flourishes on show.


On retrospect, and almost a week after I had watched the film, Johnpaul George’s ‘Ambili’ reminds me surprisingly more of Teena (Tanvi Ram), than Ambili (Soubin Shahir) himself, despite the former making an almost transient appearance in the film. Very apparently a rumination on love that has little other regard than love itself, ‘Ambili’ is a poetic piece that has its share of lyrical refrains.

It does take a few strikes at the matchbox for Johnpaul George to get this lamp alight, and ‘Ambili’ starts off on a wobble, as its protagonist gets all set for a new day, on a misty morning in Kattappana. Ambili, is a tad different from the rest of the men of his age, in that the child in him has refused to mature into an adult. Indulging in a brief game of cricket, before a Skype call from Teena beckons him towards the computer screen, Ambili is a sprightly soul that darts around like a grasshopper on alert.

The first few minutes of ‘Ambili’ seem a far cry from a film that you expect of a director who had gifted you with ‘Guppy’ and border on the theatrical, establishing once and for all that there is only one emotion that rules the man – love. When Teena arrives and confesses her love for Ambili, her brother Bobby (Naveen Nazim) is enraged and doesn’t think  twice before breaking Ambili’s nose.

What seems and sounds to be a love tale, abruptly shifts tracks thereon, when Bobby sets out on a bicycle expedition to Kashmir, where the three of them – Ambili, Teena and himself – had spent their childhood together. Ambili follows suit, much to the younger man’s chagrin, and unable to shake him off, lets him bike along.

Teena disappears from the screen and ‘Ambili’ concerns itself with an amazing camaraderie that the two brother like souls share en route to Kashmir. Thereafter, it shrugs off its timidity and surges on, almost as if those initial hiccups were never there in the first place. It’s a steady ride henceforth, as Ambili and Bobby steer their bikes up and down the curved roadways to Kashmir, where they meet themselves yet again.

This is probably the reason it strikes me strange that almost all the frames that keep making a reappearance in the mind involve Teena, and her reassuring smile that transcends across the screen. Perhaps in the larger scale of things, Ambli and his indisputable virtuousness would hog the limelight, and justifiably so, but for me, this girl is what absolute love is all about.

Perhaps to set a few things straight, one of Teena’s roommates, appalled at her determination to marry this man, questions her about his prowess in bed. Teena declares that his expertise has long since been proved, but to the viewers it almost seems an assurance that she is not fighting a lost cause.

It requires Bobby and Ambili – as far from each other as they possibly could be, and as close to each other as well – a road trip, to discover how they have always been destined to be together, inseparable by the snow clad memories that bind them together. It’s a journey of self discovery for Bobby and one of rediscoveries for Ambili; one that would transform  themselves forever.

Tanvi Ram is the star for me, in ‘Ambili’, who in just a few scenes asserts what a talent house of a performer she is. Naveen Nazim deftly holds his ground against a seasoned performer as Soubin, who does a wonderful job as the quirky Ambili. This film has been scenically shot by Sharan Velayudhan and Vishnu Vijay’s musical score is a crowd winner all the way.

‘Ambili’ lacks the beautiful dexterity that had made the director’s ‘Guppy’ a one of a kind experience. But it does pick up the brush and in a few masterful strokes leave a beautiful painting on screen that leaves you all impressed by the artful flourishes on show.


Verdict: Laudable Effort


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