Frankly speaking, the Prakash Raj- Radha Mohan combo's Abhiyum Naanum is nowhere in the league of their previous oeuvre Mozhi. With a touching title like that, one would have thought the director would have a more solid script, but somehow it fails to strike a chord like their earlier film.
But having said that, if you are still looking for a different kind of cinematic experience, then, it’s worth a look. The beauty of the film lies in the outstanding performance of Prakash Raj. The film is about the relationship between a father who is extremely fond and possessive about his daughter, he comes out with a sterling performance.
The story is simple and straightforward. Reghuram (Prakash Raj) an estate manager in a tea estate near Ooty, meets Sudhakar (Pritviraj) in one of his early morning walks as the latter finds it difficult to manage his little daughter in a kids park. Reghu gets nostalgic and starts chatting up about his most priced procession- Abhi, his daughter to Sudhakar a total stranger who listens in rapt attention.
Reghu starts the story from the day his daughter was born till when she goes away after marriage. The story covers her joining pre KG, her adolescent years, and when she goes to Delhi for higher studies and comes back with a new guy in her life Joginder Singh (Ganesh Venkatraman). This is heartbreaking for Reghu the over protective father who becomes jealous, anxious and also falls into deep depression. It is a simple story that tries to say the message that you should try to understand and reach across to your children, if we have to understand ourselves.
The film starts well but somewhere along the way it peters out and just does not unfold quickly. A beggar who Abhi takes a fascination as a child is welcomed into Reghuram's family and over the years becoming a part of the family, is hard to swallow. Joginder Singh's extended family of survivors from Delhi bomb blast, Mumbai train blast, Gujarat carnage etc just doesn't wash. Joginder 'an independent journalist (??) and an economist' talking directly over phone to the Prime Minister is absurd. Some kind of logic or believability, is absent in the script.
The film's fatal flaw is its packaging, which is not convincing and at time too preachy and drags big time post interval. The Punjabi family act in the second half spoils otherwise a serious film, and drives you up the wall. Another major let down is the music of Vidayasagar, if Mozhi was his magnum opus, in Abhiyum Naanum he is falling flat. The first half looks like Prakash Raj doing Steve Martin act of Father of the Bride, while the second half is very similar to Robert De Niro meeting Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents!
Yet for an audience fed up of recent mindless love stories and action extravaganzas, this one from Duet Movies is definitely worth a dekko for Prakash Raj's performance. He is the pivot around which the film revolves. His comedy scenes in the first half are a scream, especially the way he mugs, thinking he has to pass a GK examination for parents of children applying in a prestigious school for admission in Pre- KG! And in the second half his anguish is tangible; you can feel the earnestness of his intentions and the wetness of his tears. Hats off to you Prakash, only you can do it.
Trisha as Abhi has come out with her best ever performance, and is super tops. Her outburst against her father when he comes quietly behind her as she cycles to school for the first time, and her tears in the final airport scene is well etched. Aishwarya as her practical mother is dignified, while characters like Manobala, Thalaivasal Vijay and new boy Ganesh are apt for their roles. Count among other things Preeta's eye- catching camera, with the mist scenes shot in Munnar standing out. If only Radha Mohan had a far more tighter script, it would have been far more enjoyable.
Watch Abhiyum Naanum only for the father and daughter pair – Prakash Raj and Trisha, they make the film work to a certain extent.
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