Release Date : Oct 23,2015
Rani Padmini (aka) Rani Pathmini review

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Production: Mohammed Kassim, P. M. Harris, PV Sasi, V. S. Muhammed Althaf
Cast: Manju Warrier, Rima Kallingal
Direction: Aashiq Abu
Screenplay: RaviSankar, Shyam Pushkaran
Story: Aashiq Abu
Music: Bijibal
Background score: Bijibal
Cinematography: Madhu Neelakandan
Editing: Saiju Sreedharan

The first throwback you'd make when you hear of Rani Padmini is of films like the Hollywood classic Thelma and Louise, primarily for the reason that it's a girl buddy film. And in a way, a theme that's quite rarely been explored in Malayalam cinema. On that accord, Rani Padmini stands out for all its heart and honesty.

Rani Padmini follows the personal tale of two women Rani (Rima Kallingal) and Padmini (Manju Warrier), two completely different women with completely contrasting characters. While Rani is a strong willed, intrepid and aggressive personality, Padmini is a lot more level headed and one of those "well-behaved girls" as she's described in the film. The two cross paths during a trip to Leh where both of them end up, each for their own reasons; Padmini is in search of her husband Giri who left her in a pickle and ran off to participate in a mountain motor rally while Rani is running away from a load of trouble that she'd caused. 
What stands out in this film is how well-defined each character is, irrespective of their screen time. In fact, it's a performance detour for most of the actors here. Manju Warrier, whom we have always seen take on the bold character plays a character who is a few notches turned down. The beauty of her performance lies in its subtlety. Watch out for those minute expression changes and mannerisms that'll charm you. You'll definitely be bowled over by her occasional sheepishness. Meanwhile, Rima very well holds out on her own, matching the senior actress in terms of performance. Rani is a character that's never come across Rima's way and now that it has, she's done more than full justice to it. For Jinu Joseph who plays Giri, it's a lot more screen time than he's accustomed to and the actor does not disappoint. It's also refreshing to see him handle a performance that's not villainous or heavy on the negative shades. Talking of villains, the gang of goons who chase Rani provide more of a comic relief than be scary at all, which is yet another refreshing detour. Dileesh Pothan as the hilarious "media person from the land of Kalari and Sree Narayana Guru" is a riot, so is his chemistry with Soubin Shahir who plays his cameraman. 
The best parts of the film are subtle. Like mentioned before, it's in all the off-hand expressions and mannerisms that you empathise and play along with the characters. Although the story has its heart in the right place, the screenplay tends to drag during the second half, including a rather long chase sequence and an over-dependence on the visuals. Of course, when you're given the background of the Himachal and the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, it's only natural to want to share as much of that beauty as you can with your audience. But there's only so much that visuals can supplement a lagging narration. However, the absence of excessive drama, especially the climax, where you might expect it is a well executed coup as long as the narrative is concerned. Manju Warrier's monologues are very straightforward, yet poignant from the very beginning and kudos to the excellent writing in these parts.
Cinematography by Madhu Neelakandan is awe inspiring and draws you into the essence of this road movie. The music score by Bijibal is decent, often seeming like a misfit in parts where you'd expect something a lot more rousing, unless of course, the move was intentional. The editing could have been tighter, as with the screenplay. Although you begin with a good intention and the audience is curious to know what happens during Rani and Padmini's journey, you'll be left feeling impatient to get to the end, given the film's running time of around two hours and twenty minutes. But in the hands of a master craftsman like Aashiq Abu, the film's come together well as a whole despite the hiccups.
Verdict: Rani Padmini is a film for the wanderlust and the romantics. This is not a 'feminist' or a 'woman-centric' film. It's an incredibly feel good story about love, friendship and a lesson to always take life by the horns and fight it out no matter how bad the cards dealt for you are.
( 2.75 / 5.0 )