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Ellam Sheriyakum movie review: A well-told family entertainer against the backdrop of Kerala politics

For a family entertainer to keep the audience at the edge of their seats is no mean feat, and Jibu Jacob along with Sharis Muhammed’s brilliant script achieves that with ease

Sanjith Sidhardhan
Nov 19, 2021
cover image
Rajisha Vijayan and Asif Ali in a still from Ellam Sheriyakum

Story: On the day that veteran leader KC Chacko is set to be sworn in as Kerala Chief Minister, his daughter Ancy elopes with Vineeth, a youth member of the opposing party. Three years later, as the couple are set to have a child, another election season looms. However, before Chacko embarks on fulfilling his 50-year-old dream, he has to decide between his family and politics – the very same choice hounding his son-in-law Vineeth.

Review: Probably no other film industry churns out as many movies told against the backdrop of politics as Mollywood. From big-budget entertainers such as Lucifer to classic satires such as Sandesham, Malayalam cinema has been rich in that regard. Director Jibu Jacob, who helmed the hit political satire Vellimoonga in 2014, once again adds another worthy movie to that repertoire with Ellam Sheriyaakum, which has Asif Ali, Rajisha Vijayan and Siddique playing central characters.

Much like Vellimoonga, the movie is filled with circumstances that would keep the audience guessing. For a family entertainer to keep the audience at the edge of their seats is no mean feat, and Jibu along with Sharis Muhammed’s brilliant script achieves that with ease. Just when you think you got the characters or the next scenes figured out, they spring a surprise that keeps the film engaging from start to finish.

At its surface it’s a story told several times, but here how Jibu manages to keep it entertaining is through its characters – a veteran political leader KC Chacko (Siddique) on the throes of achieving his dream of ruling the State, his fiery daughter Ancy (Rajisha) who is pregnant but has her own goals, and Vineeth, a submissive communist party member who has trouble saying ‘no’ but has an intriguing past that lends so well in keeping the film from becoming a run-off-the-mill attempt.

Unlike Vellimoonga, where politics was always in the background, here the State’s elections, parties and their functioning get the centre-stage. The family drama between Chacko and his daughter, who haven’t seen each other for the past three years after she eloped with Vineeth, takes a back seat. But when these characters come together, it makes for sparking drama – something that movies with politicians as protagonists often ignore.

The central theme here is balancing career and family. Vineeth, due to his Good Samaritan nature, is someone who is shown struggling with it. But this is how Jibu lends perspective to the story. In a scene where a young politician challenges Chacko, who has been the spearhead of his party, the veteran leader reminds him that experience also means authority. There’s again another sequence where a quarry businessman during a negotiation tells the younger people that wisdom and faith often trumps the hot-blooded impulsiveness of youth. The director pivots these in the ending of the film, which is satisfying as much as it’s relevant to today’s politics in Kerala. While it doesn’t point out names, for the Malayali populace, it’s obvious whom the film’s team are trying to address.

The women in Ellam Sheriyakum also make a huge impact - be it Chacko’s wife, who tells him what his daughter has been missing and Ancy who states that she has her own politics – even though it doesn’t fall under the conventional definition, or that of Vineeth and an upcoming communist party leader Ajitha.

Siddique shines as Chacko – lending flexibility that the role required. It’s a gray character and the actor pulls it off with elan. Asif Ali shows the two sides of Vineeth, with his past almost lending the ‘mass’ elements to the movie. How he pulls off the contrasting roles with ease shows his maturity as an actor. The combination sequences between Asif and Rajisha are a delight with the latter being the more domineering one of the two, but where Rajisha truly delivers are her sequences with Siddique. However, one does feel that an actress of her calibre is underutilised in the movie.

The film’s cinematography by Sreejith Nair is delightful and reminds you of some old-school family entertainers. Composer Ouseppachan, who also has a cameo in the film, elevates this further with his melodious songs and score fitting for a film of the genre.

Verdict: For those waiting for over a year to watch a perfect family entertainer on the big screen, Ellam Sheriyaakum would be a good bet. With a well-told story against the backdrop of contemporary Kerala politics and splendid acting by its lead cast, the film is a worthy follow-up by Jibu Jacob, who had helmed Vellimoonga earlier.

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