A neatly crafted survival thriller | Manjummel Boys review

'Manjummel Boys' poster | Imdb

'Jan.E.Man' director Chidambaram's sophomore film 'Manjummel Boys' opens with a tribute to Kamal Haasan's critically acclaimed work 'Gunaa'. The 1992 film had kicked off people's fascination about the mesmerising cave located en route to Kodaikanal. In 'Manjummel Boys' too, the same wanderlust and fascination drive a group of fun-loving men to explore the cave. What starts off as a jovial adventure takes a dark turn for the gang, and soon ensues as a fight for survival.

If James Franco's 2010 survival thriller '127 Hours' focused on the protagonist's lone fight for survival, in 'Manjummel Boys', it is friendship that takes the cake. Chidambaram, who succeeded in giving us a beautiful movie on human emotions and a unique side of love in 'Jan.E.Man,' employs his magic touch in 'Manjummel Boys' too.

At unexpected moments, he pulls at our heartstrings. He excels most in creating an emotional connect with the central characters. The neat screenplay and soulful narration make you root for the gang, despite their overall casual approach to life.

Unlike blockbusters such as '2018' and 'Take Off', 'Manjummel Boys' is not an edge-of-the-seat thriller. Though Subhash (Sreenath Bhasi) is trapped inside a 900-foot-deep cave, the lensman Shyju Khalid doesn't create the illusion of intense depth or fear. There's a mellowed-down, realistic approach to the whole situation, which slows down the movie in the second half. The climax scene is a winner, though, and renews your faith in friendship, miracles and ability to beat odds.

Soubin Shahir as Kuttan excels in his role as the older member of the group. The helplessness and despair he feels at a crucial moment in the movie has been beautifully essayed by the actor. Sreenath Bhasi's physical transformation for the film is noteworthy, though the makers could have paid more attention to detail regarding his character. The 'Jan.E.Man' cast, including Balu Varghese and Ganapathi, return in 'Manjummel Boys' but play smaller roles in the film. Veteran actor Salim Kumar's son Chanthu makes an impressive debut with the movie. Though his character Abhilash is quite the oddball, he plays a crucial role in the movie.

Sushin Shyam's background score and songs blend well with the film, but there is nothing out of the ordinary. But, one can't overlook how he employs subtle music to elevate the tension during the rescue operation. The 1992 evergreen number 'Kanmani Anbodu' and Kamal Hassan's dialogues are effectively and beautifully blended in with the narrative, which is one of the biggest highlights of the film. Ajayan Challissery's production design and Shyju Khalid's cinematography, are outstanding. Overall, the movie is a neatly crafted tale of friendship that triumphs over the survival drama.

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