A girl giving a speech to everyone who came for her wedding about the irrelevance of horoscope matching, arranged marriage, etc., and the audience of her speech clapping for that is a concept that looks extremely utopian even in 2022. But the success of Akhil Anilkumar’s Archana 31 Not Out is its ability to make such a scenario look natural and convincing. It’s a very light-hearted comedy set in a Girish AD universe. But the perspective it has makes it an extremely engaging and fairly entertaining movie.
Archana is a teacher in a private school, and she is in her late 20s. Almost 30 proposals have got rejected, and the rejection has affected her. Finally, when she gets an alliance, she loses her job. But with the hope that she will be able to find a better job, the family decides to move on with the marriage. But on the day before the wedding, Archana faces another roadblock. How she single-handedly dealt with that situation is what we see in Archana 31 Not Out.
What makes Akhil’s movie an easily relatable one is how it places the heroine. She is not a person who wants to go against conventional methods. Her priority was the happiness of her parents. She wanted her family to have that good social status. With her job, she modified the house, took care of the financial responsibilities, and even the idea of getting married came from this thought of blending in with the society. The script actually takes the risk of switching her mindset over a night’s time. But the length of the night, which we also feel while watching the movie, helps a lot in making the impractical climax look believable.
The movie’s title has an anecdote attached to it, which we see as a 2D animation during the opening credits. The main story of Archana 31 Not Out is actually an elaborate version of that anecdote. Archana can find a solution or handle a situation almost single-handedly. The primary conflict and the solution we see in Archana 31 Not Out is its leading lady evolving to the next level in her situation-handling tactics. Akhil is not trying to make too many statements. His aim is to keep us guessing about the solution Archana has in her mind. A little bit of that old-school fantasy element in the story enhances the funny, feel-good factor.
As an actor, Aishwarya Lekshmi is not someone who is known for variations. But in movies like Maayanadhi, Varathan, and Kaanekkane, she was able to get the emotional pitch of the characters. Here also, she is doing precisely that. There is a shot in the film where Aishwarya is talking to the character played by Indrans about her problems. The performance was so believable that the editor didn’t bother to insert a different shot between her monologue. I really enjoyed the performances of all those character actors appearing as Archana’s friends and relatives. The character played by Indrans has a significant role in the story, but nothing much in terms of performance. Ramesh Pisharody’s role is a pointless one. Still, that character’s attitude and the song help the movie in lightening the intensity. Hakkim Shajahan and Rajesh Madhavan are the most familiar faces in the supporting cast, and they were good in their roles.
As I mentioned in the beginning, it is that light-hearted comedy that will remind you of movies like Thanneer Mathan Dhinangal and Super Sharanya because of the similarity in narrative style and visual texture. When you backtrack Archana 31 Not Out, there is a good structure to its credit, with every sequence and diversions contributing in some way. With the relatability factor in its favor, I would say Archana 31 Not Out is definitely worth a watch.
It's a very light-hearted comedy set in a Girish AD universe. But the perspective it has makes it an extremely engaging and fairly entertaining movie.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended