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Review Tamil

Aelay review: Halitha Shameem's film is fun but excruciatingly long

Release Date: 12 Feb 2021

Cinestaan Rating

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Haricharan Pudipeddi

Set against a rural backdrop, the film beautifully explores the strained relationship between a father and son.

Aelay can best be described as Halitha Shameem’s big leap towards making a mainstream film while still leaving her signature all over it.

Just like her previous two films, Aelay is charming with a heart of its own, but it is also exhausting by the time you reach the end.

Set against a rural backdrop, the film beautifully explores the strained relationship between a father and son. It’s a fun, sweet film that gets so much right about life and traditions in a village but is needlessly long drawn.

The film opens with the death of Muthukutty (Samuthirakani). As the village gears up to give him a grand farewell, his son Parthi (Manikandan) arrives from Chennai to perform the last rites.

The death of his father has no impact on Parthi and he goes about walking around the house with absolutely no emotion on his face. He doesn’t even shed a tear. As Parthi sits down next to his father’s body, we are told what made the relationship between the son and the father so cold over the years.

Muthukutty, as we learn in the flashback, wasn’t a bad father, but he wasn’t good either. He was cunning and smart, but at the same quite caring towards his kids Parthi and his elder sister. However, Parthi had a lot of issues with how Muthukutty lived his life, and with the ways in which he made money.

There are quite a few instances that make Parthi hate his father and as the story cuts between past and present, we get a clearer picture about the strain in the relationship.

Halitha has built the world of Aelay with just two key characters and both Samuthirakani and Manikandan are a treat to watch as the father and son, respectively. While the story tries to capture the very essence of the rural lifestyle, it’s also a film about traditions and how people value them even today.

The first half is mostly narrated in flashbacks and helps us understand why things got bitter between Muthukutty and Parthi. The second half is where the story tries to make a very predictable detour and we get a climax that’s a major letdown. The twist in the climax looks forced, and it’s something you wouldn’t expect of Halitha, who is a far better writer than most of her contemporaries.

Aelay is still an enjoyable film. If you don’t mind its length, you will probably enjoy it more. But the film isn’t a step up for Halitha, who had set the bar quite high with her first two films.

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