Maniyarayile Ashokan movie cast: Gregory, Anupama Parameswaran, Krishna Sankar, Shine Tom Chacko
Maniyarayile Ashokan movie director: Shamzu Zayba
Maniyarayile Ashokan movie rating: One star
Maniyarayile Ashokan is the tale of a lonely man who projects his desires for love and intimate companionship on a plantain plant. Yes, that’s right, a plantain plant. “Is there any other tree in nature with such fine feminine beauty as a plantain plant,” goes the voiceover that justifies the protagonist Ashokan’s (played by Gregory) obsession to seek an intimate relationship with a plant. No, it is not a stoner movie, and our hero is not smoking any grass.
While we have movies like Spike Jonze’s Her envisioning a future where an operating software is deemed suitable to meet the intimate needs of human beings, debutant director Shamzu Zayba believes that a non-responsive plant will just be enough.
Maniyarayile Ashokan opens with Ashokan’s dream. He is dreaming about a girl he saw at a function recently. It is not something crazy or implausible. It could well be a common recurring dream for every man, with deep-seated conviction in self-centric ideals. In the dream, Ashokan is woken up his wife, who serves him his morning tea in bed. He opens his eyes to his beautiful, smiling wife. And turning this dream into a reality will be his life’s biggest achievement. But, it is not easy because he is not exactly sharp-looking like Dulquer Salmaan in a navy uniform. (Dulquer makes a cameo appearance as Ashokan’s cousin).
A girl rejects Ashokan because he doesn’t have fair skin, height or a high-paying job. And he is desperate to get married because of peer pressure. Reasonably, one may expect the film would examine the society’s obsession with fair skin and indict a marriage-centric society for putting undue stress on a person’s mental health. Director-writer Shamzu Zayba does neither.
Looks are of great importance for Ashokan himself despite the fact that he is getting rejected on the same basis. The film puts forth the idea that a man doesn’t have to be good looking, but a beautiful appearance is a must for a woman when it comes to marriage. Even when Ashokan seeks out to marry a plantain plant, he vows to marry the most beautiful plantain plant in his garden.
And the general ambience created by leaching winks and sinister laughs of just married men overtly sexualizes the institution of marriage. In more than one way, the movie underscores that physical need triumphs the need for emotional compatibility in a marriage.
Shamzu Zayba did not clearly think through the idea. The half-baked plot results in a wannabe slice-of-life movie.
Maniyarayile Ashokan is streaming on Netflix.
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