Aelay movie review: A fun, sweet rural drama that’s let down by its length

Published on Feb 28, 2021 09:29 AM IST

Aelay is a fun, sweet film that gets so much right about life in a small village and their tradition but is needlessly long drawn.

A still from Aelay.
A still from Aelay.
ByHaricharan Pudipeddi

Film: Aelay

Director: Halitha Shameem

Cast: Samuthirakani, M. Manikandan and Madhumathi

Aelay can be best described as Halitha Shameem’s big leap towards making a mainstream film while still leaving her signature mark all over it. Just like her last two films, Aelay too is charming with a heart of its own but it’s exhausting by the time you reach the end. Set against a rural backdrop, the film beautifully explores the strained relationship between a father and his son. It’s a fun, sweet film that gets so much right about life in a small village and their tradition but is needlessly long drawn.

The film opens with the death of Muthukutty (Samuthirakani). As the village gears up to give him a grand farewell, his son Parthi (Manikandan) arrives from Chennai to perform the last rites. The death of his father has no impact on Parthi, and he goes about walking around the house with absolutely no emotion on his face. He doesn’t even shed a tear. As Parthi sits down next to his father’s body, we’re told what made the relationship between the son and the father so cold over the years.

Muthukutty, as we learn via the flashback, isn’t a bad father but he wasn’t good as well. He was cunning and smart but at the same quite caring towards his kids – Parthi and his elder sister. However, Parthi had a lot of issues with how Muthukutty lived his life, and with the ways he made money. There are quite a few instances that make Parthi hate his father and as the story cuts back between past and present, we get a clearer picture about the strained relationship.

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Halitha has built the world of Aelay with just two key characters and both Samuthirakani and Manikandan are a treat to watch as the father and son, respectively. While the story tries to capture the very essence of the rural lifestyle; it’s also a film about traditions and how people still value them even today. The first half is mostly narrated via flashbacks and it helps us understand why things were bitter between Muthukutty and Parthi. The second half is where the story tries to take a very predictable detour and we get a climax that’s a major letdown. The twist in the climax looks forced, and it’s something you wouldn’t expect of Halitha.

Aelay is still an enjoyable film and if you don’t mind its length, one will probably enjoy it more. But the film isn’t a step up for Halitha, who had set the bar quite high with her first two films.

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