A newly married couple moves into a small town hoping to start a new life. But odds are against them and their life takes a roller coaster ride.
Neeyum Njanum is a 2019 Indian Malayalam-language film written and directed by A. K. Sajan. It features Sharaf U Dheen and Anu Sithara in the lead roles. The film was produced by Siyad Koker under the banner of Kokers Films.
The trailers of ‘Neeyum Njanum’ that released way in advance suggested a love story set in Malabar, a narrative told quite often. But, ‘Neeyum Njanum’ is a pleasant departure from the suspected narrative.
Yakub Muhammad, a special branch officer, falls in love with Hashmi while tailing her as a person of interest in an investigation. He pursues her enough that they end up a happily-married couple. But life has far more hurdles in store for them, including a stranger from her past that could shake her marriage to its core.
‘Neeyum Njanum’ is a love story, alright. But the plot goes beyond the realms of a conventional love story. It’s a love story neatly packed in layers of thrill and comedy. With Sharaf U Dheen and Vishnu Unnikrishnan in the cast one is to expect comedy, no doubt. But given Sharaf U Dheen is the leading man here, his humour is quite subtle, honest and believable.
Given her recent performances, Anu Sithara, as Hashmi, is as good as one may expect. Vishnu Unnikrishnan is also commendable for his performance of subtle humour. Music being an important factor in the narrative, the songs of ‘Neeyum Njanum’ are thoroughly enjoyable. Kudos to Vinu Thomas. It keeps us engaged in the narrative without overdoing the Malabar cliche. Clinto Antony also gives the film a lift with his visuals full of life. However, written and directed by AK Sajan, ‘Neeyum Njanum’ is a narrative of our time, touching on themes of moral policing, religion, and politics. He creates Mylanchivalavu, a fictional village in Malabar, and its people as a reflection of the characteristic human instincts. And he uses sharp wit and wry sarcasm as his story telling tools, making it a somewhat intelligent cinema.
The story of ‘Neeyum Njanum’ makes a slow start, shifting gears till it finds its sweet spot in the second half. It is safe to say, that only then does the story catch up. So, some level of patience is advised. There is fine line between a Roadside Romeo and Romeo himself. And Sharaf U Dheen has famously played the creepy Roadside Romeo in many films (Premam), of which even references are made here. ‘Neeyum Njanum’ shows Yakub start as a Roadside Romeo transform into a Romeo by sheer persistence. And it’s problematic implying that even though a woman has specifically stated her discomfort, it is ok to pursue her, often stalk her, so that she will eventually concur to your wish. Yes, this is a pattern being followed in cinemas since time immemorial, however, we as a society are, at the very least, learning to understand that ‘a woman’s no means no’.
‘Neeyum Njanum’ is a love story at heart which does not ignore the politics of religion and morality, that we see around us.