Kumbalangi Nights

Kumbalangi Nights

A soft-spoken Bobby is denied a kiss by his girlfriend (Baby) and he storms off saying “I am a man, mind you”. By the way, they are in a theatre watching Arjun Reddy. The film goes to the lengths of placing such an easter egg in a scene that has already made its point of showcasing male entitlement. This is the kind of design Syam Puskaran has gone for in this grounded but colourful study of masculinity. The film isn’t loud at all, neither is its point, and it places its metaphors deftly, without making any noise.

A dysfunctional set of four brothers (rendered by a terrific cast), while on the path of their respective arcs, reset equations with one another to complete what they call “family”. The beauty of Malayalam writers is their knack of leaving things unsaid. The amount of ambiguity in these films lends to the real-life value of not judging someone without knowing where they are coming from. Everyone has a story. You aren’t entitled to know it as much as you aren’t supposed to judge them without knowing it. Case in point here – the scene where the brothers go meet their mother. Graceful writing.

This is a beautiful film every way you look at it – visually, musically, thematically. It says a lot with its theme of masculinity and the allegories are very subtle. Catching them as they unfold is a part of the experience the film is intending to give you. The tone goes for a slight toss towards the end, but even that bit works standalone, because the craft delivers all the emotions as the writing takes a break. Here is the level of maturity at which mainstream Malayalam cinema is functioning, also a humongous improvement from 2014’s lovely Bangalore Days (fair comparison for being another multistarrer and the similar-sounding title), which is saying a lot.


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