The name, Ashraf Hamza, was enough to raise expectations for Sulaikha Manzil. A wholesome treat was anticipated from the director who made a dream debut with Thamasha and followed it up with another hit, Bheemante Vazhi. But Sulaikha Manzil entertains only in parts.
The narrative is set against a Muslim wedding in Malabar. Haala Parveen (Anarkali Marikar), who has three brothers, stays in Sulaikha Manzil. After a heartbreak years ago, she is all set to have an arranged marriage with Ameen Kasim (Lukman Avaran). The alliance has been arranged by Sameer (Chemban Vinod Jose), Haala’s eldest brother, with whom she has a strained relationship. Since the wedding was fixed over two weeks, Ameen feels that he and Haala should get to know each other better before marriage. But Haala is not much enthused about it, which disappoints Ameen. When his attempts did not succeed, misunderstandings arise and the wedding is on the verge of getting cancelled.
The premise had enough scope to be turned into an interesting narrative. Although the director, who has also written the story, takes up a relatable topic, the result, unfortunately, is a movie with not enough situations to keep the audience engaged.
Sulaikha Manzil (Malayalam)
Director: Ashraf Hamza
Cast: Lukman Avaran, Anarkali Marikar, Chemban Vinod Jose, Mamukkoya, Shabareesh Varma
Duration: 120 minutes
Storyline: Ameen and Haala’s marriage is arranged in a hurry. As Ameen tries to know Haala better before the wedding, she does not consider it important and this leads to a misunderstanding between the couple
Even though a lot of characters come in and go, which is expected of any movie about a big fat wedding, the film falters in terms of excitement, especially in the first half that is set in a slow pace. The humour does not work in certain scenes as the jokes do not land, perhaps because of the dialect. One of the drawbacks is that the script hurries through some of the scenes without exploring the emotions of the characters.
What saves the film to some extent is the performance of the actors and the mood that the director creates with music and dance. It is another fine performance from Lukman after Saudi Vellakka, as he portrays the excitement, insecurities and anger of Ameen. Anarkali is spot on as Haala when she expresses her predicament with her body language, dialogue delivery and mannerisms, instead of going for melodrama.
Chemban Vinod, also a co-producer of the movie, gives so much depth to the stern but warm Sameer; so does Amalda Liz as his wife, Bathul. The supporting actors lift the mood of the movie, especially actors such as Shabareesh Varma, Archana Padmini, Deepa Thomas, Mamukkoya, Ganapathi and Adhri Joe. Composer Vishnu Vijay, after his experimental but hugely successful Thallumala, repeats the magic with the viral tracks, ‘Jil jil’ and ‘Haalaake’.
The film has some emotional moments towards the climax, which might leave you misty-eyed. It might even work as a festival entertainer, thanks to the peppy dance numbers. Ashraf should also be given credit for having several female characters in the movie who speak their mind, instead of ending up as props. Also, there are no villains, fights and bloodshed, unlike Thallumala, which he co-wrote.
But, overall, there isn’t a lot to get enthused about the film other than the performances and the feel-good moments thrown in here and there. The movie does not stay with you in spite of the seriousness of the topic that it handles.
Sulaikha Manzil is currently running in theatres.