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Malayalee From India review: Even Nivin Pauly’s honest performance can’t save this disappointing film

After the huge success of Nivin Pauly’s character in the recent Varshangalkku Sesham, the Malayalam star’s Malayalee comes from India. Helmed by Jana Gana Mana directorial, Nivin Pauly teams up with Dhyan Sreenivasan in this drama series. (Read also: Heeramandi review: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s sprawling, glittering debut show is blissfully free of its cinematic trappings)

The plot

Nivin Pauly in a still from Malayalee from India.

Gopi (Nivin Pauly) lives in Mullakara, Kerala, where he spends time playing cricket or campaigning for a political party. His best friend is Malghosh (Dhyan Sreenivasan) and the two usually get into trouble, much to the despair of Gopi’s mother, who earns a living from various jobs to support the family.

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One day while playing cricket, Gopi hits a ball against a house where a group of men are gathering for a meeting. A fight breaks out between Gopi’s gang and these men, but it settles down quickly. But it is when India plays Pakistan in a crucial cricket match that things go wrong. Pakistan wins the match and to the dismay of a few people in the village, a bunch of kids erupt. The people around us assume that it is about India’s defeat and since the children are from the Muslim community, they are furious.

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Malghosh drags Gopi from home and he ends up attacking those families and communal riots break out in the village. Numerous men are seriously injured and Malghosh and Gopi are wanted by both police and community members. Gopi is forced to flee his village and ends up in the middle of nowhere in the Middle East on a camel farm in the middle of the Covid pandemic. And his supervisor is a Pakistani who loves cricket. What happens to Gopi? How will the case against him be resolved?

The disappointing writing

In director Dijo Jose Anthony’s film, he has tried to combine various social issues in this film – ranging from communal politics and manipulation of religion by politicians – to the current political atmosphere in India. Unfortunately, the script is poorly written by Sharis Mohammed and while the intention to emphasize the importance of communal harmony can be applauded, the execution is sub-par.

The story is not coherent and jumps haphazardly from one issue to another, with comedic bits scattered throughout. For example, initially we see that Gopi is involved in politics and romance with Krishna (Anaswara Rajan) and we come to believe that the film is related to politics in Kerala. But a few minutes later the theme changes completely – and Krishna also disappears from the film. And from Kerala, Gopi suddenly ends up on a camel farm in the desert in the Middle East. Why a camel farm in the desert? In fact, this reminds us of the recent hit movie The Goat Life. You get the impression that most Malayalis – for some strange reason – end up on goat or camel farms in the UAE and then try to escape their horrible lives there.

Nivin Pauly does not look fresh in this film and though he acts with all his heart, it is not enough to save Malayalee from India. Dhyan Sreenivasan and Nivin share a good chemistry on screen and the comedy between them works well for the audience. However, the more serious message that the director and writer want to convey is lost in this mediocre film. Malayalee From India is disappointing and not the comeback that the talented Nivin Pauly deserves.

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