Guruvayoor Ambalanadayil Movie Review: Vipin Das’s ‘Guruvayoor Ambalanadayil’ is an easy watch, but this solid premise should have generated more laughs

Vipin Das
The film stars Prithviraj Sukumaran, Basil Joseph. Not all the jokes land, and the second half, especially, dips in momentum.
Guruvayoor Ambalanadayil Movie Review

Guruvayoor Ambalanadayil Movie Cast & Crew

Production : E4 Entertainment,Prithviraj Productions
Director : Vipin Das

When I interviewed director Hari before the release of Rathnam, he said it was important that the big heroes do more films per year, instead of concentrating on just one potential mega-blockbuster at a time. It keeps the theatres in business. That’s another aspect Malayalam cinema excels in. Take Prithviraj. We saw Aadujeevitham in March. In May, we have Guruvayoor Ambalanadayil, directed by Vipin DasThe former is a drama. The latter is a comedy. (And he’s also directing one of the most anticipated big-budget films of the year.) Regardless of the quality of the films, the point that Hari made – and it is a valid point – is that stars should put themselves out there more. Some films will win. Some will vanish without a trace. But at least, the wheels of the industry keep turning. 

The premise of Guruvayoor Ambalanadayil is fantastic. Prithviraj plays Anandan. His sister Anjali (Anaswara Rajan) is going to get married to Vinu (Basil Joseph). It has taken a lot to convince Vinu, because he is still reeling from a heartbreak – but the funniest parts of the film make this incident seem almost redundant. Who needs a romance when you have a bromance! Anandan and Vinu have a sickly-sweet relationship, and it’s hilariously exaggerated – almost like a parody of films about lovers from an earlier era where the style of acting was more gestural than natural. It’s amusing to see these two actors together: the tall, strapping, hero-like Anandan versus the shorter, mousier Vinu. The casting couldn’t be more perfect. Basil is amusing as always, and – to quote just one example – Prithviraj’s reaction to the “buildup” given by the Yogi Babu character made me collapse in my seat.

Forget whether Anjali wants Vinu for a husband. Anandan wants Vinu for a brother-in-law, and vice versa. So what could go wrong? The complication arrives in the fact that Anandan is separated from his wife Parvati (Nikhila Vimal). Vinu wants to reunite them. This leads to a rock-solid knot, and the audience is in on the joke before the characters are – this makes us wait for the moment when Anandan and Vinu will catch up with what we know. But this moment comes too soon, and thereon, the plotting becomes very predictable. There are some big laughs, but this premise should have yielded far more comedy than what we get. The second half, especially, dips in momentum, and resorts to desperate measures like a fortune teller and a drone with a mind of its own. I kept wishing for the sweet silliness of the bromance.

There are many movie in-jokes, referencing NandanamDrishyam, and so forth. And in a loose way, the story itself looks like a comic version of earlier one-upmanship games like Ayyappanum Koshiyum. The film is an easy, lazy watch. But the staging and the pacing should have been much better. Take Prithviraj’s own comedy, Bro Daddy. There was so much warmth in that movie, and the writers knew that comedy shines better when juxtaposed against (light) drama. For a lighthearted film, there was a real vision behind the way it was shot and treated. Guruvayoor Ambalanadayil relies only on its jokes, and had they all landed, the film would have worked. But we are left with a lot of draggy bits that try very hard to make us laugh, and don’t. The big, frantic climax, especially, needed a filmmaker more in tune with large set pieces. And this premise deserved more.

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Baradwaj Rangan

National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, former deputy editor of The Hindu and senior editor of Film Companion, has carved a niche for himself over the years as a powerful voice in cinema, especially the Tamil film industry, with his reviews of films. While he was pursuing his chemical engineering degree, he was fascinated with the writing and analysis of world cinema by American critics. Baradwaj completed his Master’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations through scholarship. His first review was for the Hindi film Dum, published on January 30, 2003, in the Madras Plus supplement of The Economic Times. He then started critiquing Tamil films in 2014 and did a review on the film Subramaniapuram, while also debuting as a writer in the unreleased rom-com Kadhal 2 Kalyanam. Furthermore, Baradwaj has authored two books - Conversations with Mani Ratnam, 2012, and A Journey Through Indian Cinema, 2014. In 2017, he joined Film Companion South and continued to show his prowess in critiquing for the next five years garnering a wide viewership and a fan following of his own before announcing to be a part of Galatta Media in March 2022.