At its emotional core, Saajan Bakery Since 1962 by Arun Chandu is a film that wants to talk about the dynamics in siblings’ relationships. In one particular scene towards the end where Betsy and Bobin speak to each other in a calm and composed way, you would understand that the aim here was to talk about this relationship between a brother and sister who have this Tom and Jerry dynamics. But where the movie falters is in setting up the backdrop. It takes an awful long time to give the audience an idea about what the conflict is, and even after establishing the conflict, it was getting dragged.
The story here is about a brother and sister. Betsy and Bobin are the children of Saajan. These two, along with their uncle is taking care of Saajan’s bakery. Bobin is a guy who wants to migrate to Australia, and he has no real passion for the bakery business. On the other hand, Betsy has this urge to be independent, and she is on the verge of a divorce. What we see in Saajan Bakery is the relationship between these two and how it evolves over a challenging phase.
As I said, the film feels so vague in many places. Even though I am telling you that this movie is about the siblings’ equation, as a viewer, I found myself clueless by the time the film reached the half-way point. It is actually after the interval you get this vibe that the movie is perhaps solely about Bobin and Betsy. But even after establishing that, the writing goes after side tracks and subplots, which kind of drags the movie rather than adding to the emotional space it had already reached. The second-half sequences like Bobin’s bun making and his conservative, protective brother show, etc., sort of stood out. The Jaffer Idukki portions are your template motivation stuff, and it was mainly his performance that saves the movie in those key areas.
Betsy doesn’t felt like a highly challenging role for someone with the caliber of Lena. Betsy is extremely sensitive, she wishes to be independent, she is angry about the lack of understanding of people around her, and you will be able to sense the helplessness of that character in Lena’s performance. Aju Varghese is mostly in his typical comical zone. He tries to switch the gears in the second half of the movie, where Bobin’s character flaws are getting exposed. But it still felt semi-comical. Ganesh Kumar was a convincing choice as the uncle. Even though she kind of got vanished in the second half of the movie, I really enjoyed seeing the fourth wall breaking performance of Ranjita Menon as Merin. She brought in a level of energy and charm into the narrative without doing too much to make it gimmicky.
Arun Chandu, as a filmmaker, is exploring relationship dynamics that aren’t typical. It’s an easily relatable yet less discussed topic. But the problem is with the script co-written by Arun along with Sachin R Chandran and Aju Varghese. Rather than developing layers over the two characters in focus, the writing just goes behind fun moments, or I should say moments that wouldn’t cause problems to the script even if it got chopped off in the editing table. The writing somewhat felt like it was unnecessarily delaying the conflict. The fourth wall breaking narration by Merin was fun to watch. But the sad part was that it never really contributed to the whole narrative with the same level of charm. Guru Prasad’s cinematography isn’t trying to do too much in terms of visual statements and follows a very subtle style of placing the viewer in the situation. Aravind Manmadhan’s cuts had that agility in the beginning portions, which had this Angamaly Diaries style pace, and it dropped gradually along with the pace of the story. The tracks by Prashant Pillai were extremely catchy, with Thora Mazhayilum being my personal favorite.
Saajan Bakery has its moments whenever the movie goes close to Betsy. The statements they have made through Betsy and Merin are appreciable. But it was only a small part of a bloated script. If the writing had managed to keep everything tidy, this one would have ended up being a Kapoor & Sons equivalent feel-good drama.
Saajan Bakery has its moments whenever the movie goes close to Betsy. The statements they have made through Betsy and Merin are appreciable. But it was only a small part of a bloated script.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended