Aadujeevitham Review | Prithviraj stars in an intense tale of survival

Prithviraj, Najeeb. Photo: Manorama Online

Najeeb's story of survival, his epic struggle against the brutal fate that pushed him into the remotest corners of the world, has become part of the Malayali's literary lore. The long wait cinematic portrayal of that brutal struggle ended today. And Blessy has not let his followers down.

Blessy, who has always crafted relatable, yet ruptured characters, focused on the plight of Najeeb, by evocatively portraying the loneliness of the vast desert and the ruthlessness of his Arab employer. The movie begins with a healthy-looking Najeeb, played by Prithviraj, and his young friend Hakeem reaching Saudi Arabia to start a better life.

The Arbab (master in Arabic), a rough, unkempt, merciless man, steals them away to the desert in the middle of the night. Though the hardships in the journey may have not been described as vividly as in the book, we are introduced to the loneliness and the pain of the young men very early in the movie.

Blessy's challenge lies mostly in telling a story of a tormented man in the desert surrounded only by goats and camels and vast expanses of sand. But he manages to keep it lively through Najeeb's fond memories of his hometown and his beloved wife Sainu, played by Amala Paul.

However, this technique affects the film at times, especially since the viewer is yet to get invested fully in Najeeb's hardships in the desert. Blessy's penchant for telling tales of hardship finds true life in the second half of the film, with the focus largely on the escape. The languid, long shots of two desperate men running through the desert, accompanied by A R Rahman's beautiful music, capture the essence of what Aadujeevitham truly is. It is in these moments that you understand the greatness of Sunil K S's frames. They drive home a loneliness that is truly too hard to digest.

The locations chosen by the filmmakers capture the mood of the story well. If the Wadi Rum aka the Valley of Moon depicts the emptiness of Najeeb's soul, the greenery and lakes surrounding Najeeb's hometown in Arattapuzha essentially portrays his happiness and contentment. Prithviraj who has appeared in several romantic and intense dramas, including 'Ayalum Nyanum Thammil' and 'Ennu Ninte Moideen' plays a loving husband to Sainu with conviction, yet it is Amala Paul who wins our hearts with her coy, bubbly portrayal of a woman in love.

As Najeeb, Prithviraj leaves you astounded at times. There are some scenes that lend him the opportunity to portray his brilliance as an actor, which he utilises effectively. His physical transformation is notable. Gokul who played Hakeem and Jimmy Jean Louis who essayed Khalid Khadiri deserve praise for their remarkable performances in the film, crafted well by Blessy.

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