In his latest venture, Ariyippu, Mahesh Narayanan uses a character-driven approach to address a subject driven by moral dilemmas and masculine ego. A plot that felt very one-dimensional gets considerable depth when Mahesh cleverly mixed it up with a corrupt system that was in the backdrop. With a making that keeps everything raw, Ariyippu hits the sweet spot towards the end.
Hareesh and Reshmi are a Malayali couple living in Noida, and they both work in a gloves manufacturing factory in different departments. The couple had aspirations to go abroad, but the pandemic messed up their plan. They had secretly shot a video to show their work experience in the factory. Things change for them when that video gets leaked. How that changes the dynamic of their relationship is what you see in Ariyippu.
Trust is one prominent theme of Ariyippu. In fact, it is the first conflict that we are introduced to in the movie. An investigative bit kicks in after a while, but it is clearly not used as a device to find closure. Then we have another investigative bit showing the factory’s corrupt ecosystem. The film uses all these tracks to give clarity about how the lead pair thinks, and just when I felt Mahesh Narayanan might opt for an ambiguous ending, in a couple of scenes, he establishes how the one who chooses to be ethical finds peace.
In terms of scope to perform, Ariyippu gives Kunchako Boban a solid platform to show the vulnerability of a character. Hareesh is consumed by societal judgments and the male ego, and there are sequences that show these moments in the bare format, and Kunchako Boban pushes him out of his comfort zone in all those moments. Divya Prabha gets an extensive role as Reshmi, and the performance is mostly on the subtle side. Her dialogue delivery had the confidence and clarity the character demanded. Panchayat fame Faisal Malik, Athulya Ashadam, Danish Hussain, and several others are in the cast, and each casting looked authentic.
In the initial phase, you will feel that Mahesh Narayanan is only going to focus on the male ego-driven dilemma of Hareesh. But the way the seemingly insignificant factory track became a crucial element in differentiating the characters of Hareesh and Reshmi looked really unique. The importance the script gives to all the supporting characters is very impressive. Despite having a more realistic tempo, the script managed to have that engaging feel largely due to how it shifted from one mood to another. Reshmi’s quest for validation, Hareesh’s trust issues, the foul plays happening in the company, Reshmi’s clarity on what she wants, Hareesh’s opportunistic mentality, etc., constantly keeps the movie in a volatile space. Interestingly, some ornament ( a ring and a bracelet) was present in the track of characters in an uncomfortable space. Sanu John Varghese’s frames capture Noida in that colorless texture, echoing the movie’s mood.
Ariyippu is perhaps the most honest and uncompromised film from Mahesh Narayanan, as his approach to depicting character complexities and finding closure has a refined feel to its credit. With well-etched characters and conflicts that keep you invested in the developments in the story, Ariyippu becomes a drama that stays with you for the right reasons.
NB: Ariyippu had its Indian premiere in IFFI 2022. It will be screened at IFFK 2022, and will be available on Netflix from December 16th.
With well-etched characters and conflicts that keep you invested in the developments in the story, Ariyippu becomes a drama that stays with you for the right reasons.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended