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AMBILI MOVIE REVIEW

Review By : Movie Run Time : 2 hours 20 minutes Censor Rating : U

AMBILI CAST & CREW
Production: E4 Entertainment Cast: Soubin Shahir, Tanvi Direction: Johnpaul George Screenplay: Johnpaul George Story: Johnpaul George Music: Vishnu Vijay Background score: Vishnu Vijay Cinematography: Sharan Dialogues: Johnpaul George Editing: Kiran Das

One of the biggest takeaways of any relationship in life is that you tend to hurt the ones you love the most. We tend to squirm at the abundant affection showered at us, and its overpowering presence becomes a frequently irritating intruder in our lives. But once it goes away from us, that is where we become remorseful. John Paul George's heartwarming dramedy Ambili is a film that expresses the heaviness of affection exuded by an unadulterated person.

The titular character of the film, Ambili (played by Soubin Shahir), is a grown man with an unblemished, childlike nature whose smile and joy are intact even during his sleep. Ambili plays gully cricket with those who are way below his age and those who are above his levels of maturity tend to get the better of him. Ambili shows less interest in  collecting rent from the store owners of a complex he owns. Instead, he gets distracted by the goodies they offer to him, like a shirt, or publishing one of his amateurish poems in a magazine.

At its core, the  film is about the relationship Ambili shares between a famed cyclist Boby and his sister Teena (played by Tanvi Ram), who is Ambili's childhood sweetheart, whose friendship goes way back when their fathers were stationed in Kashmir. Boby is set to embark on a much publicised cycle journey from Kerala to his earlier residence in Kashmir.

The film presents Ambili's town as a close-knit locality, much like the way Maheshinte Prathikaram portrayed the town of Prakash. But what makes Ambili more distinct is that the film does not play in the absurdist zone, as the tone is more realistic. The humour is much more observant and uses life-like moments to deliver many a comical moment. For instance, the bickering exchanges between a mother-in-law and a man's wife will surely bring a smile. Every emotion is underplayed, and it plays out in a breezy manner. The first half might be having a few pacing issues due to the idyllic portrayal, and some of the jokes do not land well. But the payoff is completely worth it.

The first half places a well-etched love story between Ambili and Teena, that is backed by a poignant chararacter revealing moment. The romance is more naive, where the two are yet to explore each other. She wants to protect his goodness from being exploited, and instructs him to do what he must. The romance is cute, but the cuteness arises from Teena's willingness to guard Ambili. But their relationship doesn't go well with Boby and the conflict builds slowly at that moment. The film downplays the taboo surrounded by their romance and deals it with more maturity and restraint.

The film slowly transitions into a road movie in its latter half, and the bitterness caused between characters are seldom used in the writing. The film keeps its lighter mood intact and some of its emotional beats are similar to that of films like 'Planes Trains and Automobiles' and 'Anbe Sivam', where a no-nonsense guy has to bear through the antics of their co-traveller. Ambili survives lack of resources with his outgoing nature, and there are many endearing moments at every turn of their journey. The film ties them together at last, but the journey and the characters they meet on the way, makes this journey one we tend to care for.

Soubin Shahir's performance as Ambili is a real tour de force. He walks the tightrope between underplaying and caricaturing magnificently. Just look at the scenes where Soubin gets emotional, his face muscles speak volumes of the character's joyful demeanour, that tries to well up its sadness but never wants to show it. He delivers one of the greatest performances of this year. Ambili speaks volumes about various themes without the aid of loud, preachy filmmaking. The film speaks about the most definitive idea of manhood, that involves caring and having each other's backs. Naveen Nazim and Tanvi Ram underplay their roles effectively.

The camerawork captures every terrain and landscape in an evocative way without being too showy. The frame has its focus on characters and seldom gets distracted by the prospect of giving a lot of coverage shots of the locations. Overall, Ambili is like the moon that follows us while we are walking. We might wonder why and how it accompanies us, but as we uncover its beauty, it will eventually give us the best company. At times where movies with adult logic are packaged as family entertainers, Ambili comes across as a breath of fresh air, with a genuinely wholesome treatment of love and friendship.  An emotionally satisfying watch.

AMBILI VIDEO REVIEW

Verdict: Ambili is a leisurely paced, heartwarming drama about relationships with lots of innocence. A must watch.

BEHINDWOODS REVIEW BOARD RATING

3.25
3.25 5 ( 3.25 / 5.0 )

PUBLIC REVIEW BOARD RATING

REVIEW RATING EXPLANATION

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