Though director Akhil Anilkumar’s intention cannot be blamed, things start going horribly wrong once the conflict point arrives in this dramedy
With a title referencing cricket, a trophy of Archana’s cricketing exploits as a youth in her cupboard and even a conversation between some characters on a memorable knock she played long back, one would expect the sport to have some role to play in the narrative. But, like many other things in Archana 31 Not Out, it is a mere embellishment, removing which will not make any difference to the script.
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The ‘31 Not Out’ in the title also refers to the 30 failed proposals for marriage that Archana (Aishwarya Lekshmi) had to go through, and the 31st which is under consideration. But, the proposal comes at a tough time for her, having lost her temporary job as a school teacher, a job which enabled her to take care of her family. Despite the setbacks, the proposal seems to be working out and the preparations are on for the wedding, when an unexpected news about the groom reaches her the night before the wedding.
As for his intent, there is nothing to blame director Akhil Anilkumar for. He has packaged in everything from the unwelcome questions from strangers and distant relatives, to the constant pressure from the family that a girl nearing the “marriageable” age has to face. In fact, in the initial half, the film somewhat succeeds in portraying the struggles of Archana, in taking care of the family and organising her own wedding.
Archana 31 Not Out
- Director: Akhil Anilkumar
- Cast: Aishwarya Lekshmi, Indrans, Lukman Avaran
But then, the conflict point arrives and things start going horribly wrong. One begins to get a bad feeling about the entire thing when the film slips into a bit of a forced fantasy narrative, when she imagines the different scenarios that might take place if she reveals the news to the family. It is unbelievable, but almost the entire second half is written around Archana worrying about how this news would affect her family. The cycle of worrying and sharing her woes with some other characters seems never-ending, that one wishes the protagonist also showed a little concern for the audience who have to repeatedly sit through the same story.
Although the film attempts to redeem itself in a climax sequence which has a laudable idea, by then the audience are too tired to take in all the positive vibes that the script seeks to generate. It is not often that a film which is less than two hours in runtime gives us the feeling of being so excruciatingly long. Some bland, pointless writing in the second half spoils what could have been an interesting subject for a short film. The characters, including a bunch of drunken old men, and sequences, like a running battle between two neighbours, which are meant to evoke laughter, fall flat.
Archana might not be out, but there is no one left to bat at the other end, and the match is lost, by quite a wide margin.
Archana 31 Not Out is currently running in theatres
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