One Hero, Many Bromances : The Celluloid Friendships of Nivin Pauly
By • Sunday, August 07, 2016
Malayalam cinema’s much feted alpha male heroes were always protectors, lone rangers, and supermen. So there wasn’t the likelihood of any male bonding. Like Induchoodan (Narasimham) and Arackal Madhavankutty (Vallyettan), he had followers— “yes men” who hung on his every word. Even if there was a friend, he would invariably turn benefiter —Jagannathan (AaramThampuran). Or else there were the dim-witted sidekicks (Jagadeesh in Butterflies, Siddique and Maniyampillai Raju in various superstar films). That’s why the male bonding in Nivin Pauly films comes as a breath of fresh air. Their relationships are fun, witty and they are more or less on the same page. There is no power play. We bring you three of the most interesting instances of male bonding on screen featuring the actor.
With Aju Varghese (Thattathin Marayathu, Ohm Shanti Oshana, Oru Vadakkan Selfie)
In ThattathinMarayathu, it is difficult to markdown Abdu’s role in the Vinod-Aisha love story. Not only is he advisor to his friend, Abdu also offers him “life’s lessons”— “Eda ee kaanan kollavunna penpillerudeyokkey kamukanmar nalla oolanmarayirikkum.” At every juncture of the love story, Abdu provides moral support. There is a hilarious scene when a chap comes and warns him about a certain Imtiaz going to “screw them up” and a puzzled Abdu looks at Vinod indicating by way of hands maybe he means a piece of screw. In another instance Vinod vents his frustrations at his friend over the uncertainty of his love story and the sudden appearance of the man with six packs, Imtiaz— “Keralithiley anpillerkkenthinaada six packu” and Abdu’s reaction is epic.
Ohm Shanti Oshana’s Giri shares a love-hate relationship with his once close buddy David Kanjani. The reason for their rift is riotously shown with an analogy: Giri and Kanjani are on a battlefield and he steps on a mine. When Giri rescues him by putting his weight on the mine, Kanjani decides to abandon him and run away. Kanjani entertains despite his deceptive ways. He steals the chief priest’s gold ring, steals wine from the priest’s chamber, opens a café that is also a lovers’ meeting point, and elopes with Giri’s girl.
But their bonding wins hands down in Oru Vadakkan Selfie — the equation being similar to that of the legendary Dasan and Vijayan’s. The same recklessness, silliness, and artlessness. Like Vijayan, Aju’s Shaji gets some of the best punchlines. The scene where Shaji reprimands Umesh for calling his parents in the middle of the night with a wise cracker— “Thiricharivokke nallathanu, ennu vachu ardha rathri vilichinganey undaakkaruthu” is evocative of Vijayan's various one-liners to Dasan. It’s Shaji who inadvertently causes trouble in his friend’s life and for the same reason Umesh gives him no option than to be a partner in distress. The irreverence is what works in these friendships — there are no needless emotional knots, yet the depth of their bond is unmistakable.
Shambu and Koya (Premam)
Can there be a more realistic bunch of friends for a hero than them? They are an intrinsic part of George’s evolution — from adolescence to teenage to adulthood. And remarkably, the years never come between the relationship and Shambu and Koya remain his steadfast friends. Non-judgemental, and lot of fun, you don’t see them trying to dissuade George from falling in love with his college teacher, Malar. Why? At that age, you don’t expect your friends to take a moralistic stand. Even in school, they jointly execute plans to help George woo Mary. Despite their chief identity as being George’s friends, we do get sly hints about a schoolgoing Shambu’s fascination for soft porn magazines.
When George suffers a heartbreak after Malar’s amnesia, it is their shoulders he cries on. And when they meet as adults, you know that the bond is rock solid when they invite Malar to George’s wedding. At the wedding venue, looking affectionately at his pal, Koya blurts out a truth — he never gave George’s handwritten love letter to Mary. “It was full of spelling mistakes,” he confides to Shambu. Now that’s true friendship!
Others (Neram, 1983)
John, despite his stern exterior, is Mathew’s friend in distress. Be it borrowing money or putting him on to Vatti Raja, John is the kind of useful friend we all welcome in our lives. Rameshan’s gang of cricket buddies in 1983 are another accurate friendship representation—they belong everywhere, in our neighborhood, in villages, in towns. And like Premam, they age together—when Rameshan takes his son for cricket selection, it seems right that his childhood friends are there with him in that important event. Despite the responsibilities that come with marriage and family, whenever they meet, it’s like good old days, reveling in their common passion for cricket.
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