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Archana 31 not out review: Aishwarya Lekshmi shines in tiring watch

As the plot is as minute as a grain of sand, the director's efforts to enlarge it into a feature length film make Archana 31 not out a tiring watch after a point.

Written by Goutham VS | Kochi |
Updated: February 11, 2022 6:15:27 pm
Arachana 31 not outArchana 31 not out has hit theatres in Kerala.

The songs and trailer of Archana 31 not out, starring Aishwarya Lekshmi in the lead role, gave an impression of a simple story of a woman from a small village pressurised to get married. Directed by debutant Akhil Anilkumar, Archana 31 not out is also the first movie in which the talented Aishwarya plays the titular role.

As expected, the movie tells the story of Archana , a 28 year old woman from a village in Palakkad, who is a teacher in a private school. She is the sole breadwinner in her family consisting of an ailing father, a typical mother who’s a homemaker and a younger sister. The main plot of the movie revolves around Archana’s desire to get married amidst increasing pressure from society and her age. Unlike many recent Malayalam movies where the female lead liberates herself from the chains of marriage and societal pressure like Sara’s and The Great Indian Kitchen, Archana is yet to kickstart a revolution because of her limitations as a woman from a rural background and lack of options. Akhil in his first movie is not trying to make Archana look like a bold warrior who breaks conventional concepts of marriage, instead he shows Archana as a woman who wants to get married for the happiness of her parents. A marriage broker is on the lookout for a suitable man for Archana, but fortunately or unfortunately none of it works.

The first half of the movie mostly shows Archana’s life in her home and school. However, the 31st proposal brought by the broker works and Archana’s marriage gets fixed. The movie then shows the usual happy moments before marriage – renovation of house, marriage invitation, buying gold and so on. However, on the eve of the marriage, when the wedding celebrations are at its peak in Archana’s home, she gets a phone call that makes the world collapse around her.

The second half shows how Archana carries the burden of the heartbreaking news she receives and how she plans to manage it on her wedding day. There are some moments in the movie that make the viewers guess how Archana is going to manage her wedding day. The second half of the movie is all about the mental dilemma of Archana as she weighs all her options including suicide, running away and even shooting everyone who came for her wedding with a machine gun. These are good cinematic moments in the movie and the mounting tension on Archana is portrayed well by using some elements of surreality.

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However, the film is devoid of any other engaging factor. The sluggish pace and lack of any memorable incidents or characters make matters worse. Indrans makes an appearance as a mysterious character who doesn’t have any dialogues. And this adds to the character’s enigmatic nature. The veteran actor delivers the goods as usual. The climax of the movie doesn’t leave an impact but still manages to communicate to viewers the importance of self-determining capability of a woman and how Archana manages a difficult situation with her presence of mind. The climax feels so easy with Archana speaking from her heart and that’s it, everyone is happy.

As the plot is as minute as a grain of sand, the director’s efforts to enlarge it into a feature length film make Archana 31 not out a tiring watch after a point. And there are many pointless characters in the movie, especially the character of Ramesh Pisharody, who comes at very crucial point of the film without nothing to offer other than the song “Manasuno”, which is already a hit on social media platforms.

Aishwarya Lekshmi’s performance as Archana is engaging. Her screen presence makes the movie watchable. She handles emotional scenes with maturity and conveys the mental pressure of the character subtly and effectively. Rajesh Madhavan’s role as a marriage broker adds the only humour element in the movie along with some old drunkards who create a mess at the wedding house.

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First published on: 11-02-2022 at 05:54:08 pm

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