Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Release date:
July 6, 2018
Roshni Dinaker

Parvathy, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Ganesh Venkatraman, Maniyanpilla Raju, Manoj K. Jayan

She is a star and he an acting aspirant when they first meet on a film set. They bond instantly. Against them though stands not their difference in stature but her impending marriage to a business tycoon.

Despite the clichéd characterisation of the three lead players in this plot – as Brooding Princess, Charming Pauper and Wealthy Villain – it becomes possible to buy into their story because of the chemistry shared by the actors playing Tara and Jay who fall in love while in Lisbon on a shoot.

Parvathy and Prithviraj first drew viewer attention as an on-screen couple with the raging blaze between their characters Kanchanamala and Moideen in the 2015 blockbuster Ennu Ninte Moideen. Here in My Story, that fire is less wild and more a simmering flame, an aching vibe, making Tara and Jay the kind of pair you want to shake your fist at and say, “C’mon, do the deed. You know you want it.” And you want to see them hold hands, be comfortable in each others’ arms and grow old together, because you know in your heart that they want that too.

Whether or not any of this happens in My Story is for you to find out. Either way, the attraction between the two central characters is the saving grace of a film marked by otherwise unconvincing writing. Shankar Ramakrishnan’s screenplay and costume-designer-turned-debutant-director Roshni Dinaker’s vision, which help the actors in conjuring up the sparkling Tara-Jay equation (because chemistry is never a result of good acting alone), fail in chalking out the motivations for their actions in the film’s second half.

Firstly, Ramakrishnan makes Jay too likeable for his decisions regarding Tara to be credible. The graph of Jay’s regret defies believability too. And Tara’s fatalism is just not enough to justify her ultimate unblinking choice involving Jay. It is hard to be specific here without giving away spoilers, so make of this what you will, or re-read this paragraph after you watch the film to get what I am saying.

Maybe this screenplay needed to cook a little further before being transposed to the screen. Because it is clear that Ramakrishnan has a mind worth exploring. It is such a pleasure, for instance, to see him have his heroine make the first move in a romance, even sexually, without putting up signboards to draw our attention either to this point or the fact that they are not married when they sleep together.

It is nice too that Dinaker and her cast are not coy about sex as films by the Malayalam industry a.k.a. Mollywood continue to be. Not that those scenes are explicit or long, but it is just a relief that the actors are not awkward and the camera does not shift away to flowers or birds or props beside them when their lips meet or when their bodies slide to the floor. Nothing yet beats Aishwarya Lakshmi and Tovino Thomas in bed in Aashiq Abu’s wonderful 2017 film Mayaanadhi, but that is a separate discussion.

Dinaker also manages to build up an atmosphere of yearning post-interval, which perhaps is why it is particularly sad that My Story does not have the writing heft to back its charismatic stars, the lush camerawork by Dudley and Vinod Perumal, and Shaan Rahman’s appealing soundtrack. The cinematography team is equally efficient while capturing narrow bylanes in the Portuguese cities of Lisbon and Viseu, that dingy club and that glitzy theatre, as in their frames of the heroine and hero and vast expanses of European countryside.

In a double role, Parvathy does a better job of Tara than of Tara’s daughter Hema, possibly because the former is more plausible. Hema has been conceptualised as one of those painfully stereotypical youngsters who is cool in ways that commercial Indian cinema finds cool – perennially bubbly and energetic to an extent that you find rarely outside films and played a million times in this decade by actors ranging from Nithya Menen in Mani Ratnam’s Tamil film O Kadhal Kanmani to Shraddha Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur in OK Kanmani’s Bollywood remake Ok Jaanu.

Parvathy gives her Tara dignity and engaging interiority though. She also cracks the look of both, aided greatly by the wardrobe Dinaker has created for her. 

Prithviraj is elegantly grey – and sexy – in his older avatar, and is not bad either as Jay’s conflicted, occasionally goofy younger version. Special kudos to him for being willing to play a kinda senior chap at 35, while his 50- and 60-something male colleagues are still busy chasing their youth in films.

These are far from being brilliant performances or Parvathy and Prithviraj’s best, but it is their pairing that saves My Story from its contrivances and makes it worth watching, if at all.

Rating (out of five stars): *3/4

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
139 minutes 

This review has also been published on Firstpost:

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