Aadujeevitham Movie Review: A hard-hitting survival drama blessed by a towering performance from Prithviraj

The drastic transformations brought on by weight loss and other external factors that Prithviraj's character encounters are remarkable, to say the least.
Aadujeevitham Movie Review

Aadujeevitham Movie Cast & Crew

Production : Visual Romance Image Productions
Director : Blessy
Music Director : A.R.Rahman

For any filmmaker looking at adapting a seemingly difficult novel, the main challenge is to do it without losing the essence. Now, when it comes to a survival drama that revolves mostly around a single protagonist, you have the cumbersome task of not only visually translating all his thoughts and monologues - but also the setting in which all the events happen, and doing it well.


Director Blessy's film, based on Benyamin's novel of the same name, may seem an unfilmable novel to many, but he has managed to prove the contrary by mounting a film that's immense in scope but also performance. 


Since the film is based on the true story of a man who went through a terrible ordeal while looking for better job prospects in the Gulf, and considering the degree of mental and physical anguish involved, it requires not only an actor who is up to the task but also someone who can draw audiences in large numbers. 


And Prithviraj was, evidently, the right man for the job. This is an incredibly physical performance, executed with every fibre of his being. 


The drastic transformations brought on by weight loss and other external factors that his character, Najeeb, encounters are remarkable, to say the least.


Imagine a situation where you don't know a single word of Arabic or Hindi, and end up in a hellish place that increasingly begins to resemble a hellish alien planet. 


There are vast stretches of desert that seem to go on forever, with no road or water in sight. It's difficult for us to imagine ourselves in the place of a man who gets mentally and physically tormented on numerous occasions. 


Given how tangible Prithviraj's performance is, I started wondering if the actor incorporated his own feelings generated by his long period of separation from his wife and daughter. I doubt whether any other actor with a 'superstar' tag would dare to take on a role like this. 


At one point, he takes off his clothes, and his body looks so emaciated that you wonder how strenuous this whole process must've been for Prithviraj. Let's just say that Prithviraj pulls a Christian Bale in this film.


Cinematographers Sunil KS, KU Mohanan and editor Sreekar Prasad ensure that the events we see on screen are gripping, if not for 100% of the runtime. The recurring human-goat parallels are imaginatively done. 


We get stunning transitions involving water and sand when Najeeb remembers the happier times with his family. We get a massive sandstorm sequence. We get a terrifying 'horror movie' moment involving a horde of extremely venomous desert snakes. We get another terrifying moment involving vultures. We get a god-like portrait involving the sun and an African man who shows up to help, and heal.


My favourite -- and these are the film's most moving moments -- are those that depict the bond between Najeeb and the goats, sheep and camels who provide the only measure of warmth for someone who could go past the breaking point any minute.


However, I wish the music and melodrama weren't so persuasive in places that don't seem to demand any. But AR Rahman's score does wonders in places where it informs us of the possibility of a misleading event anticipated by the characters.


I also found it strange that there are subtitles for only certain segments of the Arabic dialogues and not for all.


It goes without saying that Aadujeevitham is not an easy watch. There are times when I wish certain sequences weren't stretched beyond an endurable length. But the film is also oddly comforting in that all your troubles seem minor in comparison to Najeeb's.


But that seems to be the very point of the film. Because Najeeb is going through what we can't even imagine in our wildest dreams. It depends on how willing you are to experience Najeeb's life for close to three hours.


However, I must add that in terms of overall emotional impact, Aadujeevitham trumps Manjummel Boys. 

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