Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham review: Whacky comedy backed by good supporting cast but stretched too far

Release Date: 12 Nov 2021

Cinestaan Rating

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Sonal Pandya

This quirky whodunnit about a missing pair of earrings, directed by Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval, is amusing at first but descends into madness in the second half.

Nivin Pauly’s third film as producer, Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham (2021), revolves around a thin premise which works well for the first half of the film. The Macguffin here is a pair of gold earrings which costs much heartache for Nivin’s character, Pavithran, a struggling junior artiste trying to make up with his wife Haripriya, played by Grace Anthony.

Writer-director Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval contrives a scenario in which the estranged couple undertake a trip to mend their relationship, landing in the ill-fated Hill Top Hotel in Munnar. The film (the title translates to Wealth Women War) then introduces us to the quirky staff and patrons who lend much flavour and colour to the proceedings.

There is the harassed manager Joby (Vinay Forrt), who is worried about the hotel’s image and his own deteriorating relationship with his girlfriend Mehga, and the stern receptionist Shalini (Vincy Aloshious), who lock horns with Pavithran and Haripriya. Jaffar Idukki is a belligerent drunkard Sura who interferes in the hotel investigation, almost acting as instigator and interrogator.

There is also a sensitive novelist Balachandran (Joy Mathew), a sketchy bellboy Manaf (Rajesh Madhavan) and the couple’s friend Shivan (Sudheesh), who gets them to reconcile in the first place. The cast of characters tries to get to the bottom of the mystery of who grabbed the gold earrings from the locked room when the husband and wife were away sightseeing at Idukki dam.

At first, the scenario is slightly off-beat and hilarious as the couple and hotel staff hurl accusations at one another. But as the suspense grows, the story grows wilder and out of control. There are still plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and surprises along the way, but the joke gets stretched too far and doesn’t land as well as it needed to.

Lead star Nivin Pauly, as the unsupportive Pavithran, does well in the comic scenes; his face after being mistaken for a hotel employee by an old man is classic. But the supporting characters like Sura and Joby and Grace Anthony have more fleshed-out parts and moments to shine. The comedy touches in the script veer from amusing to zany. The film even has an innovative way of introducing the credits via a narrator in the beginning and filling the audience in on the rest at the end.

Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham has cinematic references galore. The ones about older Malayalam cinema, unfortunately, I couldn’t get, but there is also a clever shout-out to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) at one point. Another good meta moment is when Pavithran is told by a crew member on a film that he resembles the actor Nivin Pauly.

Setting the action in an old but serviceable hotel, Ratheesh and art director Aneesh Nadodi create both a stifled and open space where all the characters converge and let out their frustrations. The editing and music, too, add to the comic caper feel of the feature as a few characters have some very welcome meltdowns.

However, the film’s premise soon becomes repetitive and even the clever one-liners delivered by the solid cast can’t be all there is. Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham is a light-hearted detour, but with a little more polish, a bit more tightening, it would have been way more satisfying.

Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham is now available on Disney+ Hotstar.


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