Kumbalangi Nights (2019) Review – Simple Plot that Explores Complex Characters.


Madhu. C Narayanan’s bonafide creation Kumbalangi Nights gives you ample to chew on. A platter that is not only savoring but is visually gratifying too.

The story is set in the small island town of Kumbalangi, which is a few miles away from Kochi. It is situated in the beautiful and serene backwaters of the state. The narrative revolves around the lives of four brothers. When one of them named Bobby decides to get married their frugal and disorganized lifestyle is subjected to an uneasy interruption.

The characters and their lives feel relatable, because of the very fact that they do not necessarily ooze out heroism or perfectness which we are so accustomed to seeing on screen. They are not your staple virtuous and noble beings. They are the disdained ones. They are as flawed as people around us. People whom we meet in our day to day lives. The feud that exists between the brothers, we have been privy to such scenarios in our own lives too. Though the brothers have some unresolved issues among them and what seems like a lot of animosities, but still there is a strong and affectionate bond underlying somewhere subdued, glimpses of which we can see resurfacing by overt of covert actions of the characters, throughout the film. This is the kind of layering that the filmmaker has to offer.

Without giving much away, a big shout out goes to the character of Shammi, a barber by profession, played by the enigmatic Fahadh Faasil. He is able to maintain a sense of enigma and mystery about himself throughout the course of the film. What makes Faasil stand out is his ability to play with the silence itself. More than the dialogues, the pauses between them is what captures your attention. A sudden shift in gears, in the myriad moods and emotions, that the character inculcates, will just leave you speechless.

Soubin Shahir brings out the intricacies of the character named Saji Napolean through his deft performance. It seems that he is in a continuous attempt to curtail the performance from going overboard in any such manner, and does it successfully. It is a measured and greatly nuanced performance. The weariness of the face of Saji is never without an underlying ray of hope. There is an innate sense of humor developed around the character, and Soubin Shahir catches hold of the apt nerves, to thoroughly entertain us with his top-notch performance.

A flowy and soothing background score does the rest of the job, aiding and amplifying the impact of every moment created. The picturesque setting tempts us so much so that you can’t resist but cater to the thought of spending some quality time in the thought-provoking and peaceful backwaters of Kumbalangi.

Kumbalangi Nights is layered and digs deep into the complexities of human emotions, and never missing an opportunity to provide the audience with some good old humor originating from life itself. There is a sort of ease in the way of storytelling, which has a very soothing aftereffect.

Taking heed from Bong Joon Ho, if the Hindi film audience overcomes the 1-inch barrier called subtitles and watches this riveting yet sensitive comedy-drama, then they will be exposed to the marvels of the much subjugated regional cinema. And I am sure they won’t be disappointed.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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