Ellam Sheriyakum

Ellam Sheriyakum

‘Ellam Sheriyakum’ reminded me of the infamous Rahul Gandhi speech that was mistranslated by PJ Kurien.

Directed by Jibu Jacob, Ellam Sheriyakum has a promising cast — Rajisha Vijayan, who is known to sign films only if she has a substantial role; Asif Ali, who keeps surprising us with his choices; the dependable Siddique and the versatile Indrans. The premise of a couple caught between warring political parties is intriguing too, though not exactly new. B Ajithkumar’s 2018 film Eeda was a contemporary spin on the Romeo-Juliet story with the right-wing and left-wing representing the two feuding families. So when you walk into the theatre, it is with an assurance that yes, ellam sheriyakum (everything will be fine).

However, Jibu’s film is a war of genres. It wants to be a romance, a political thriller, a family drama, a history class and a sermon, all rolled into one. The film begins with Chacko (Siddique), a veteran Congressman (the names of the parties in the film are different but it’s apparent that they stand for the Congress and the CPI(M)) on the cusp of becoming the Chief Minister. But his daughter Ancy (Rajisha Vijayan) chooses to elope with a DYFI (it’s DIFY in the film) man, Vineeth (Asif Ali), leaving Chacko red-faced.

The film revolves around this incident, this romance with repercussions, so it is vital that we buy into the love between the couple. This is where the writing fails. Ancy and Vineeth could have been two crabby 60-year-olds fighting over the TV remote for all the chemistry they share. Ancy is forever snappy and Vineeth is just characterised as the comrade with the button phone who never answers it. Their relationship is explained away in filmy yet generic scenes that don’t evoke any emotions in the viewer. You don’t get any real sense of what drew them to each other when they clearly have nothing in common.

The screenplay is overstuffed with too many issues, bordering on caricature. Take, for instance, the sexual harassment allegation raised by Ajitha, a woman leader in the communist party. It’s an opportunity to make a powerful point but all it does is amplify the hero’s machismo. Ironically, Vineeth keeps talking about how Ajitha is sidelined in the party and that’s what the film does with her character too. The family of a young woman murders her lover over ‘honour,’ but the man who engineered it is forgiven for his sins like water sliding off a duck’s back. Again, the ‘issue’ is just placed within the film as a plot point for the hero.

There’s an interesting scene when Ancy and Chacko face off and Rajisha in her impressive voice says, “This is my politics, father.” You expect that she will have something to do other than look grim and hold her pregnant tummy, but again, the script makes it all about Vineeth.

After delivering multiple messages about multiple issues, the film arrives at its final sermon — a man must put his family above his party. It’s a confused, convoluted mess, with the background music getting unnecessarily melodramatic though we’re left stone-cold. These are likeable actors, so despite the dreary writing, you still want to know what happened to their characters. But the last 30 minutes is such a drag, with the cliched technique of telling a story through TV screens and panel discussions, that you have to fight your impulse to leave before it’s over.

Ellam Sheriyakum reminded me of the infamous Rahul Gandhi speech that was mistranslated by PJ Kurien. Maybe on paper everything sounded great, but what the audience witnesses and understands is a total misfire.