How old are you? A question that is pregnant with possibilities.An interlude at the peak of one’s powers can take the wind out of the sails of even the best.Manju Warrier may have been confronted by inner demons,when she took that daring step to come out of her self imposed exile .Don’t know whether she would have asked herself, How good are you? But the scenarists knew, the director knew and ultimately the discerning Malayali audience knew that she would take like a duck to water, when she faces the arc lights again. Well, conjectures move aside, solid proof is out. Manju has comeback in the most emphatic manner.
Rarely does a female actress gets more focus than the film she acts in.Our male superstars have enjoyed this privilege,but here we see Manju the actress tower above the movie to such an extent that, an otherwise well crafted movie gets less attention than it should have. ‘How old are you’, is a quintessential women centric movie with a powerful message.What Bobby and Sanjay have achieved with their script is that they never get preachy,yet puts across an idea of tremendous import.
Nirupama Rajeev(Manju Warrier) is a middle class woman working in the lower rungs of bureaucracy. Existence is as mundane as it can get for this submissive woman,who is locked in a rather unhappy marriage with Rajeev (Kunchacko Boban).She has a daughter who is unsatisfied with her.She is considered almost as good for nothing by her spouse and offspring.There are a number of hilarious scenes which look so natural that they appear gleaned out of life. Nirupama’s small mistakes are mocked as blunders and she gets a raw deal from all and sundry.Life holds some surprises for her but she fails to make use of a life changing opportunity that comes her way by quirk of fate.
Rajeev and daughter Lachu leave for Ireland to pursue their dreams as Nirupama fails to join them due to technical glitches. Infact it is a sort of escape for the father and daughter who find Nirupama cumbersome. Battered and bruised Nirupama struggles for inspiration, which she gets from her old classmate Susan (Kaniha),who motivates her to a life changing decision. From thereon we see a resurgent Nirupama who rediscovers herself.She becomes a woman who understands her strength and her flickering self esteem now becomes a shining beacon. It is women power to the fore as we see the protagonist literally stepping into great heights. She brings the world around her to adapt to her frequency and range. She becomes a rallying point and inspiration for a whole state and ultimately her husband and daughter recognise her worth.
Rosshan Andrrews proves once again why he is considered a director with strong convictions and a profound belief in his craft. He knits together a well compiled script with supreme authority. Music is just a soothing addition to the whole premise and Gopi Sundar does a god job of it. Frames of Divakaran have an elegance that matches the feel good mood of the movie. Performances help How old are you immeasurably. Apart from Manju,Kunchacko plays the role of an unhappy husband to perfection. He is as low key as the character demands. Amritha Anil as daughter of the protagonist is a revelation. Every actor has a well etched role and whether it is Lalu Alex, Kunjan, Vinay Fort, Sethulakshmi, Muthumani, Thesni Khan etc. all of them play their roles with ease. Quizzing wizard Sidhartha Basu appears in a cameo as the Indian President.
Essentially ‘How Old are you’ is a cinematic equivalent of a motivational book. But where it succeeds is, in being a film. The comeback of Manju Warrier could not have been in a better movie. A rare feel good movie that leaves behind a pleasant feeling. Light hearted yet weighty, ’How old are you’ can touch the inner echelons of your mind, irrespective of how old are you!