Janeman (2021) Malayalam Movie Review – Veeyen

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This is a remarkable directorial debut from Chidambaram that absolutely justifies its running time.  Nurturing all kinds of delicate emotions and topping them all with some whimsical humour, ‘Janeman’ is an insightfully directed modern fable that totally wins us over with its astute writing, quaint setting, delightful narration and above all, real grounded performances.


Brace yourself for an explosive comedy, as Chidambaram’s ‘Janeman’ , a tiny jewel of a film hits the theatres this week.  Filled with laugh-out-loud funny moments , this is a breezy film that fully utilizes its absurd, yet unique premise, and thereby unpacking a whole lot of young, promising talent, both in the acting and writing sectors.

The snow that fills up the initial frames in ‘Janeman’ is a far cry from the white, fluffy flakes that typically float down the winter skies, and which leave the typical South Indian all keyed up. Left  alone with Alexa in a phenomenally cold Canadian lowland where he works as a nurse, Joymon (Basil Joseph) is miserable, dejected and depressed to the core. Trudging along in knee-deep snow along the countryside, Joymon tries hard to connect with anyone available on phone across the continents in India, but has to make do with the annoyed voice of his mom, who is in no mood to make social conversation at midnight and the excuses meted out by his busy friend who curtails the conversation even before it had actually begun.

Grabbing the next opportunity to head back home, Joymon sets out back to Kerala, on the pretext of celebrating his thirtieth birthday. Faisal (Ganapathy), his high school mate is entrusted with the task of setting up a bash, who in turn convinces his friend and (also) former schoolmate Sampath (Arjun Ashokan) to host the party at his place, in return for the real expensive scotch whiskey that they believe Joymon would be bringing in.

The trio head over to Sampath’s place on Joymon’s arrival, and the preparations begin, invariably  inviting the interest of immediate neighbours. Quite coincidentally, in the house right across the road, Itti Avara (Kunjukutty) suffers a heart attack, and falls down dead while watering his flower bed, leaving his heavily pregnant daughter Jesna (Ria Saira) screaming for help.

Jointly penned by Chidambaram, Ganapathy and Sapnesh Varachal ‘Janeman’ is one joy ride, that takes you along terrains that you least anticipate to pass by.  The scrumptiously light tone that it maintains throughout is garnished with solid laughs, and it makes for a highly entertaining time that simultaneously strikes quite few prudent notes along the way.

‘Janeman’ is a character driven film, and the screenplay that builds on each face that forms a part of the narrative is full of clever touches through exposures that bring in plenty of excitement. As the party on the terrace gets under way, with booze, music and lights to boost, the corpse lies in the house a few feet away, amidst a gradually growing crowd, impatiently waiting for the casket and Itti Varia’s wayward son Monichan (Balu Varghese) to arrive.

There are spectacular scenes aplenty that will leave you confounded by their absurdity, like the one where Sampath, eager to kiss his long lost school sweetheart Ammu (Prapthi Elizabeth) is interrupted by the fireworks that suddenly appear out of nowhere. A few meters away, Monichan who is overwhelmed with grief and guilt for his long absence from home, finally decides to kiss his dad goodbye and breaks into tears, when he’s startled by the crackers that light up the same night sky.

And there is Akshay Kumar (Abhiram Radhakarishnan), who runs the Maxima Events company that is housed inside a pickup van, who seems to have workable solutions in mind for any scenario that is humanly imaginable. The man is well-mannered, courteous, and available to anyone in need, and within minutes of arriving at Sampath’s place to set up a DJ Party on Joymon’s insistence, Akshay Kumar appears before Kochukunju (Lal), Itti Avara’s younger brother and offers his hand in the proceedings that are to immediately follow a demise, which is readily accepted.  Later, in an unbelievably hilarious moment when the power supply is cut off, we see Akshay Kumar in action again, this time letting his robe fly behind him as he pulls the generator on, and descending down on the scene like Superman who brings light back to the world that had a for a few moments shown signs of plunging into perennial darkness.

What makes ‘Janeman’ doubly special is that it indulges in no philosophical jargon to get its deeply profound messages across. Rather, it celebrates the subtlety that is evident in its character design, and works out a plot that is emotionally and aesthetically pleasing to us. The final spotlight that is shone on the title, is quite like the many revelations that precede it, and is a fine culmination to the consistent amusement that had led to it.

It would be so difficult to pick out one performance from among the many rockstar actors that this film has, but if I were asked to pick one, I would go for Basil Joseph, for his fantastic portrayal of Joymon that is sure to have you in splits. And then he stuns you with an amazingly tender scene in which he explains his lonesomeness to Monichan, and the soul that is so lost and frenetically struggling  around to grab the first arm that is held out, surfaces above all the twaddle that he had been blabbering away till then.

It is so refreshing to see actors like Ganapathy, Arjun Asokhan, Balu Varghese, Abhiram Radhakarishnan, Sidharth Menon, Prasanth Murali, Sajin Gopu, Sarath Sabha, Ria Saira and Ganga Meera get their due. Veterans as Lal and Chembil Ashokan pitch in their bits as well. Cinematography by Vishnu Thandassery is first-rate, and Bijibal’s background score apposite.

This is a remarkable directorial debut from Chidambaram that absolutely justifies its running time.  Nurturing all kinds of delicate emotions and topping them all with some whimsical humour, ‘Janeman’ is an insightfully directed modern fable that totally wins us over with its astute writing, quaint setting, delightful narration and above all, real grounded performances.


Verdict: Good


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