Jude is a quintessential Shyamaprasad hero—flawed, eccentric, unpleasant and in no hurry to please anyone. The narrative, terrain and characterisation, are all typical of the director’s style but the script also meanders into a territory he has never experimented with before. Feel-good. HeyJude, is the Shyamaprasad-esque version of happy, breezy, motivational cinema. But with all his tropes intact.
Jude’s characterisation is finely delineated, yet there is a predictability about him. During an earlier scene, when his dad, Dominic (Siddique) an antique dealer tries to oversell a ‘traditional Kerala water dispenser’ (Kindi) to a foreigner, saying that it’s the only piece left, we immediately know Jude is going to counter that with his honesty.
Much later it is discovered that Jude has Asperger’s syndrome and that part is precisely done. His inability to make eye-contact, his social awkwardness and his lack of understanding of human emotions. He is obsessively honest and has OCD of a different kind—he must eat exactly at 12:30 pm (we aren’t told about his other meal time specifications though) and has set an alarm for that. During a meal, he pushes his plate when he notices beans on the plate— “but beans was not my meal plan today.” He wants crispy toasts and dosas, hates anyone rearranging his room and loves videotaping his day to day routine.
He is also a math whiz and has an insatiable hunger for knowledge. The kind who, out of his curiosity with cricket statistics, learns all about teams and their precise winning abilities. There is a hilarious scene when a chap (Aju Varghese in a cameo) hitches a ride in their car and finds himself at his wits end because of Jude’s exacting account of geography.
Typically, the family cannot fathom him. That part I thought was so unoriginal—the money-minded dad who constantly taunts him, the anxious mom (Neena Kurup was an interesting casting) and the insensitive sister.
The other important link to Jude is Cris (Trisha)—his neighbour who lives with her slightly off-the-mark doctor Dad (superb Vijay Menon). Jude and Cris develop a bond, she is his “motivational” friend. But then it’s Shyama Prasad and so he wants to make the abnormalities even—so she is “hopelessly bipolar.” But I wish that part was explored more.
What mars the narrative is the predictability inherent to films of a similar genre. His journey of self-discovery; how a stranger typically brings in the pep talk; how the parents seek to redress the situation. It’s all a familiar route and not even the delectably sea-kissed Goan backdrop helps in refurbishing the stereotypes.
Jude’s fascination with marine life was a nice touch though. And his character arc is unhurriedly and convincingly evolved. The way he speaks—like reading out from a textbook. Nice again.
The usual Anglo-Indian clichés aren’t played out—except in a nice way when Cris wonders how, despite being one, he cannot like music.
Like in most Shyama Prasad films, there aren’t many characters. I wouldn’t totally overlook the fact that some situations and dialogue were stagey. Again, his patented style. Music was a plus and it was smartly placed—smoothing up the frames where needed.
By putting on weight, heavily made-up eyelids and badly tailored clothes, Nivin Pauly gets half the job done. With the other half - the awkward body language, reluctant smile and trying to get into psyche of being Jude - he is as substantial and is the best part of the film. Trisha (with ample help from singer Sayanora Philip who dubs for her) slips easily into Cris, giving the impression of someone so accustomed to Goa. Siddique is one actor who is not capable of giving a bad performance and he brings humour, sarcasm and seriousness to the table in right doses.
Goa was as much a part of the film as its central character. Gireesh Gangadharan catches it all—the beaches, the music, the quaint, stately, airy Portuguese homes, the antique furniture, the hues and the joie de vivre. Now, if only a bit more soul-searching and originality were added to the narrative!
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