Premalu is this generation’s Bangalore Days: Girish AD’s youthful drama is a great addition to the new-gen movement - Hindustan Times
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Premalu is this generation’s Bangalore Days: Girish AD’s youthful drama is a great addition to the new-gen movement

ByNeeshita Nyayapati
Apr 13, 2024 02:50 PM IST

The Malayalam film Premalu was released on OTT on January 12. Drawing parallels between it and Bangalore Days which released a decade ago.

In 2014, Anjali Menon’s Bangalore Days made waves when it was released, not just in Kerala, but also in other parts of south India. For migrant Keralites across the country, suddenly there was a film that understood them, especially through Nivin Pauly’s Kuttan, who often longs for home yet wants to make more out of his life. Nazriya Nazim’s Kunju was every girl looking to be independent, irrespective of her circumstances and Dulquer Salmaan’s Aju was the free-spirit everyone longed to be. (Also Read: OTT releases to watch this weekend: Amar Singh Chamkila, Premalu, Fallout and more)

Premalu released a decade after Bangalore Days and yet, tells an equally compelling story.
Premalu released a decade after Bangalore Days and yet, tells an equally compelling story.

A decade later, in February this year, Girish AD’s Premalu, starring Naslen K Gafoor and Mamitha Baiju was released in theatres, and began streaming on Disney+ Hotstar and Aha from April 12. Yet again, a Malayalam film generated hype for being relatable, funny and all-around feel-good. More importantly, it also delves into the migrant Keralite experience, this time in Hyderabad. There’s no two ways about it. Premalu is this generation’s Bangalore Days.

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What changed through the years

Naslen’s Sachin and Mamitha’s Reenu have it tough when it comes to their career and love life in Premalu, but they don’t seem to have it as hard as Bangalore Days’ Kuttan, Kunju and Aju did.

For example, Reenu doesn’t have to marry a stranger to move to Hyderabad from Pathanamthitta; she only needs a well-paying job. She might find a kindred soul in Parvathy Thiruvothu’s paraplegic RJ Sarah from Bangalore Days more than Kunju, who banks her life on the hope of love and a happy marriage to Shivadas’ Fahadh Faasil in Bengaluru. That is, till life throws a wrench in her plans.

Sachin wants to migrate to the UK for higher education but doesn’t have the funds to do that. He moves to Hyderabad to escape his constantly bickering parents; in that sense, he’s more like Aju, who comes from a broken family. Where Aju gets emotional and feels left out regarding his parents, Sachin seems to accept that the circumstances are out of his hands. Sachin breezes through life no matter what, and Aju struggles to gain confidence after a bike racing ban.

Even in terms of direction, Anjali seems to put her characters in situations that eventually demand maturity and seriousness. Girish on the other hand, opts for gags, even in a particular chase sequence involving Reenu’s boisterous colleague Aadhi, played by Shyam Mohan, who develops feelings for her. Aadhi might be the most annoying fictional character to ever exist, but you can’t deny he’s funny. And given the world's current state, maybe we need more humour than maturity.

Of love and friendship

Premalu excels because, like Bangalore Days, you walk out of the film with a smile. All the characters are relatable, with the dialogues specifically leaving a mark. When Kuttan, Kunju and Aju bemoan the concept of ‘happily ever after’ while soothing each other’s heartbreak or when Sachin is being delusional about his one-sided love for Reenu with his hilarious friend Amal, aka Amul Baby, played by Sangeeth Prathap, you can’t help but feel for these characters.

While love, in all its awkward glory, seems to be the driving factor for all these characters, even the silly Aadhi or the straight-faced Shivadas, Premalu and Bangalore Days excel at celebrating friendships. Where would Sachin be, if not for Amul and Althaf Salim’s Shobhi sir. Even his drunk friends at his engineering college in Chennai, seem to prop him up when he can’t find the strength to, like in the scene where he musts up the courage to reveal his feelings for a classmate. Kuttan, Kunju and Aju might be cousins, but they’re more friends than anything. Aju doesn’t care what society expects of Kunju; he just wants her to be happy, even if it means standing up to her unfeeling husband.

In conclusion

The new generation movement in Malayalam films developed in the early 2010s when fresh faces and relatable themes took precedence over conventional themes and the star system. Gone were the masala films, replaced by concept-backed cinema, which saw filmmakers experiment with the stories they told. When even stars like Mohanlal and Mammootty teamed up with these new directors, they let go of what was expected of them and gave in to the vision.

This generation of filmmakers and actors have also often been credited with keeping Mollywood afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic by making films like C U Soon - a screenlife film shot entirely on iPhone, The Great Indian Kitchen - which changed the way we look at women in our lives and Love - a psychological thriller shot in controlled locations.

Premalu is a great new addition to the new-gen movement, with the OTT release ensuring a wider reach. The perk? Premalu does to Hyderabad what Bangalore Days did to Bengaluru - makes it seem like the cool new city to be.

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