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Sunday, June 20, 2021

South Stream: Jayasurya’s Aadu – Oru Bheekara Jeevi Aanu

In the ninth edition of South Stream, we recommend Malayalam film Aadu - Oru Bheekara Jeevi Aanu, starring Jayasurya in the lead role.

Written by Manoj Kumar R | Bengaluru |
August 31, 2019 4:12:47 pm
Aadu The nonsensical nature of Aadu was misread by the theater-going audience. And, it did not get its due at the box office.

Aadu – Oru Bheekara Jeevi Aanu (Goat – A very dangerous being) was the directorial debut of screenwriter Midhun Manuel Thomas. Following its theatrical release in 2015, the film fell flat at the box office. It was written off by critics and fans alike. It was a devastating setback for a first-time director and to recover from such a failure, Thomas needed the help of a miracle.

One of the reasons for the film’s failure could be that the filmmakers did not set the right expectations before its theatrical release. The trailer of the film suggested an adventurous, action extravaganza, involving multiple groups of tough-looking men going after a “very precious and mysterious object.” The audience may have expected to see the clash of testosterone-fuelled egos. But what they were served was a film that jokes about the way masculinity is used to create mythical modern-day heroes in our mainstream films.

The film tanking at the box office was a classic case of expectation versus reality. Incidentally, expectation versus reality is also the main source of comedy in the film. For example, when we first meet Shaji Pappan (Jayasurya), he is introduced with an adrenaline-rushing background song telling us how dangerous and invincible he is. We expect him to single-handedly take on 10 guys at once. But the reality is he can’t lift his leg above his hip level as he is suffering from a serious spinal cord condition.

Not just Shaji, every person you see in the film is not the same as they seem. It is a pattern. Most male characters in the film get a dedicated background score that is usually reserved for action heroes. A Dabangg-inspired police officer, S.I. Sarbath Shameer (Vijay Babu), whose very presence sends chills down the spine of men who don’t follow the law. Shaji, “the hero” of the film, is terrified by Shameer. But, Shameer gets manhandled by a wayward drunkard.

We are told Arakkal Abu, a primary member of Shaji’s motley group, is very dangerous and a daredevil. When everybody hesitates, he volunteers to slaughter the she-goat that the group won in the tug-of-war competition. But what happens next is the direct opposite of what the director wanted you to believe.

Thomas creates a myth for every character and then slowly destroys it. Shaji and team is expected to storm the camp of machine-gun wielding gangsters from Bangkok and rescue one of their friends. But what happens there is completely different. The film is a borderline parody of all our mainstream films that banks on hero’s masculinity.

The nonsensical nature of Aadu was misread by the theater-going audience. And, it did not get its due at the box office. The film, however, was resurrected following the digital and DVD releases. The miracle that Thomas was hoping for. Once you understand the premise and its style of comedy, even the death of a person due to misfire leaves you in splits.

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As Aadu developed a cult following, the filmmakers made a sequel on popular demand. Aadu 2 released in 2017 and it was hailed as one of the best comedy films to come out that year. Needless to say, the sequel was a box office hit. Aadu 3 is now in the works.

Aadu is streaming on Hotstar and Aadu 2 is available on Netflix.

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