Meena's comeback Malayalam movie is engaging but struggles to stay focused | 'Aanandhapuram Diaries' review

Apart from focusing on Nandini's struggles, the film deals with drug addiction and the toll it takes on families. Movie posters | Imdb

'Aanandhapuram Diaries' marks South Indian star Meena's comeback to Mollywood after a short gap. However, unlike her recent innings in Malayalam, where she played archetypal wife roles, in Jaya Jose Raj's 'Aanandhapuram Diaries,' she essays Nandini, a college dropout, who returns to complete her law degree at Aanandhapuram after 20 years.

The film is Jaya Jose's second outing after the critically acclaimed movie 'Idam' (Abode), which deals with old age and how a woman fights a lone struggle against her two elderly sons who want to evict her from her ancestral home. In 'Aanandhapuram Diaries' too, Jaya brings socially relevant issues to light through a moderately engaging screenplay. Apart from focusing on Nandini's struggles, the film deals with drug addiction and the toll it takes on families. Telugu actor Srikanth's presence as a guest lecturer lights up the movie, which is set mainly within the confines of a college campus and a courtroom.

While the filmmaker deserves praise for discussing a social menace, it seemed a bit forced. Also, the film struggles to stay focused on one theme. As Nandini returns to college, she has to confront her past and new enemies, which makes her life tough. Roshan Abdul Rahoof plays Adithyan who is part of her friend's circle. How Nandini's return impacts Adithyan and his loved ones' lives makes the crux of the movie.

The well-made courtroom scenes are enhanced further, thanks to superb performances by Maala Parvathi and Manoj K Jayan. While Meena is excellent in her role, her character lacks depth. Despite Nandini being the central link to the rest of the characters in the movie, the filmmakers fail to craft a convincing backstory for her. Her inability to go de-glam affects the film at times. Srikanth is adorable as the guest lecturer Paul in the film.

Roshan Abdul Rahoof did justice to his character, while Remya Suresh and Abhishek Udayakumar also played their roles well. The songs in the movie composed by Shaan Rahman, Albert Vijayan and Jackson Vijayan are soothing to the ears.

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