Story: The film is a story of four brothers, and how a handful of situations test their sibling dynamics.
Review: You know how actors say that is not the length of the role or even whether they play the main character, but the quality of the role that matters to them. Well, ‘Kumbalangi Nights’ gives all the actors the chance to prove that statement and every one of them delivers unfailingly in this charming little movie, ably directed by first-timer Madhu C Narayanan.
The story takes its time to unfold, without feeling like a drag, in the first half in the fishing hamlet of Kumbalangi. There is a shed-like house in which four step and half-brothers, played by Shane Nigaam (Bobby), Soubin Shahir (Saji), Sreenath Bhasi and promising young, footballer Mathews, come and go, but not before trading punches and barbs with each other. Saji and Bobby are a couple of losers; spending their days lying around without doing any work and mooching off others. These are not the kind of real characters we are used to seeing in our films, and ' Kumbalangi Nights ' feels more special for that.
While doing a one-off fishing job which is basically a demonstration for tourists, Bobby kindles an affair with tourist guide Babymol, played by newcomer Anna Ben, whose family also runs a homestay. Her sister, played by Grace Antony, has just recently married Shammy, portrayed by Fahadh Faasil . There is something menacing about Shammy. Is it his OCD, or is it his intrusiveness or his ever-smiling passive aggressiveness? Fahadh plays his role flawlessly, making you laugh nervously. We would venture to say that he is in award territory again.
And the women in his house and the background music accompanying his words and actions are the perfect foil to his character. Full points to Grace Antony for shining in a small role. Shammy will not allow Bobby and Babymol to marry; not surprising, considering his rightful argument that Bobby does not have a job and comes from a family of ill-repute.
The second half picks up pace. In a twist, the house is suddenly filled with women, but not Babymol, and the men start to find purpose and answers in their lives, willingly or unwillingly. Credit to scriptwriter Syam Pushkaran for not providing easy answers or making anything seem forced, except perhaps for Sreenath Bhasi’s love angle.
The tense and surprising climax comes with the attempt to carry the relationship between Bobby and Babymol to its logical conclusion. The heavyweight moments in the film are dealt with comic one-liners that actually come across as good bits of philosophy for life. What seems like a broken down house actually ends up holding a lot of love, while a house that seems quaint and systematic on the outside harbours secrets.
The first half of the film starts out as a character-driven, while in the second half, the plot takes over; kudos to all that both work very well and gives us a film that is well-worth a watch.