Just like the 2012 Bollywood film English Vinglish that marked the return of Sridevi, director Rosshan Andrrews’ How Old Are You brings back the terrific Manju Warrier, who stayed away from the movies for 14 years.
The similarities don’t end here and both the films narrate the coming of age tale of its protagonist, a housewife who is regarded as incapable of anything appreciative by her husband and daughter.
Nirupama Rajeev (Manju Warrier) is the mother of a young girl in her teens, who is going through a not so happy marriage with her husband, Rajeev (Kunchacko Boban). They are trying for a job in Ireland and due to several minor issues, their visa is getting delayed.
Nirupama is worried about ageing and has a complex, as her husband looks younger to her. The story meanders aimlessly during the first half, until the invitation to meet the Indian President is conveyed to her.
It’s a simple but relevant theme that is being handled here - the silent pains of millions of hapless mothers and wives, which gets conveniently ignored in their households. The film has its moments, with some hard-hitting dialogues and some engaging scenes.
But the problem is with the way it has been packaged. With several sequences that have limited clarity or relevance, the film lacks much fizz especially in the first half. Nirupama’s attitudes change with every scene and there are several build-ups that reach nowhere. Still the film manages to connect with the viewers and that works in its favour.
Manju Warrier, who had left the scene as a bubbly and fantastic actor during her heydays, look a bit pale and is wearing loads of makeup perhaps to hide her age. The viewers were naturally eager to see how the makers of her comeback film decides to present her – if she continue from where she had stopped or if she would present herself in a new and matured avatar.
Sadly, even those behind this film seemed to have that confusion and this has resulted in leaving her character half-baked. Her character is never consistent and the labored diction of the actor doesn’t really help things either. But she manages to leave the viewers impressed to a certain extent for sure.
Kunchacko Boban is good, but the couple’s chemistry on screen is zilch. The film is also a tad too long at two hours and twenty minutes.
How Old Are You is a fine attempt even in the current form but gives the feeling that it could have been better, if its makers had taken some more effort while moulding it. There are some positive messages that the film conveys, which also need to be appreciated. Go for this one!