Maniyarayile Ashokan review: A quirky take on what defines Indian marriages
Director: Shamzu Zayba
Cast: Jacob Gregory, Anupama Parameswaran, Shritha Sivadas, Sunny Wayne and Nazriya Nazim
Maniyarayile Ashokan is one of those films that work because of its simplistic storytelling. Despite its sometimes bland and predictable narration, what makes this film really tick is how it celebrates life’s little moments – something as simple as a group of friends coming together to eat a dessert made from vermicelli. Though it’s a romantic comedy centered on a guy way past his ‘marriageable age’ and the issues surrounding his marriage, it’s also a social commentary on how certain norms define our society’s idea of arranged marriage.
The story is centered on Ashokan (Gregory) and his dreams of a marital life. Unfortunately, things are not going in his favour and every attempt to find a suitable bride goes in vain when he gets rejected for various reasons. From his looks to his menial clerk job, there’s hardly anything going for him in his life, except for his loving family and highly supportive friends who also double up as his support system. When Ashokan learns about an issue in his horoscope and blindly follows the word of an astrologer to fix it, something unexpected follows and it leads to something shocking in the form of a major twist. Thankfully, the film never gets too serious and maintains the genuine dose of humour right till the end.
The film questions Indian society’s obsession with marriage and the pressure it puts on the people involved in it. Without getting too preachy, it makes its point in a heartwarming way. As a social commentary, it throws the spotlight on the archaic tradition of matching horoscopes and how demanding everything has become in arranged marriages today. While the central story of the film is about Ashokan’s desperation to get married and how he’s willing to do anything it takes to enter wedlock, there’s also a subplot about a character’s broken marriage and how conveniently he’s willing to end everything. The film looks at marriage from different standpoints, from the perspective of couples from different age groups.
The film does get slightly predictable towards the end, especially when it deals with a subplot about mental health. However, the overall tone is lighthearted and the bursts of humorous moments make the viewing experience mostly fun. Jacob Gregory as Ashokan competently brings out the vulnerability of his character and delivers a fitting performance. The supporting cast aided by the amazing visuals plays a crucial role in keeping one engaged throughout. The surprise cameos by Dulquer Salmaan (who is the producer of the film) and Nazriya Nazim are the perfect icing on the cake.
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