Ashraf Hamza’s latest film Sulaikha Manzil is an attempt to explore the pre-marriage tension among couples. While it captures the moments entertainingly, the graph is flat in terms of making any statements. Some of the areas they talk about these hastily set up arranged marriages hit the point effectively. At the same time, there are a lot of places that feel generic and simply festive.
Sameer is the elder brother of Haala, and he has been trying to find a suitable alliance for her for a long time. One fine day he gets a call from his mother saying that Haala has agreed to marry Ameen, one of the boys whose photo Sameer had sent. The marriage got fixed pretty soon, and Ameen and Haala only had 14 days before the wedding to know about one another. We see how this minimal time to know each other plays a role in their relationship equation in Sulaikha Manzil.
We are shown that the relationship between the brother and sister has some strains. The only hint about that is an opening credit song which is a spoof of the typical album songs released in Malappuram. The movie is more interested in following the bride and groom on the eve of their wedding. In a way, Ashraf Hamza is trying to strike a middle ground between arranged marriage and love marriage, or I should say he is saying a slightly tweaked version of arranged marriage is as good as a love marriage. But the film’s design couldn’t give it more space to explore those emotions in detail. It’s almost like a couple going through what happens in a 6-month-old relationship within 14 days. Hence, certain aspects don’t have a solid foundation on a script level.
Lukman Avaran is in that sober Thallumala space, and he neatly portrays Ameen’s excitement, anxiety, and outbursts. Anarkali Marakkar, as Haala, gets to play this girl who needs space and time to understand a person. She keeps it minimal and less theatrical in all those conversation scenes. Chemban Vinod Jose, the concerned brother who is hesitant to face his sister, had that warmth and authority in his performance. Amalda Liz, Deepa Thomas, Adhri Joe, Ganapathi, Noushad, Jolly Chirayath, Shabareesh Varma, Archana Padmini, Mamukkoya, and several others are there in the elaborate star cast of this movie.
It’s interesting that, in certain ways, Sulaikha Manzil feels like a less eccentric and sober version of Thallumala. And Ashraf Hamza was a co-writer in the Tovino Thomas starrer. When the film started, I was hoping to see a movie that would be more conversational. But that part is minimal, and Ashraf Hamza invests time in the glitz and events around the ceremony. It is a challenging and interesting concept to show a bonsai version of a meaningful and practical relationship in a very short time. But the time constraint affects the depth of certain egoistic tussles. The way they have captured the conversations between the family members and friends is all pretty jovial and real. Vishnu Vijay’s tracks are peppy and fun. The movie has a good pace, and it never really lingered on a particular scene or issue.
Unlike Thamaasha and Bheemante Vazhi, Sulaikha Manzil doesn’t have a solid structure or focus. It’s like capturing a real wedding and its moments and trying to figure out a meaningful structure to the whole thing by editing the entire footage. In terms of peppiness and scale, Sulaikha Manzil is the ideal choice for an Eid entertainer. But beyond the expected feel-goodness and wedding fun, there is little here that stays with you for a long time.
It's like capturing a real wedding and its moments and trying to figure out a meaningful structure to the whole thing by editing the entire footage.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended