The Great Jackfruit Family

As most of you might already know, I am not a fan of the television series in Malayalam which have been part of different channels. But there was Thatteem Mutteem which became a show which I regularly watched, and that had changed. With the children in the series growing up to have children, things were never going to be the same again. Then, with the beginning of COVID-19, the episodes stopped, and we were no longer interested in this particular programme. I was never a fan of the much hyped Uppum Mulakum, even though in the beginning, I had found the same to be okay. As of now, one can be pretty sure that it can only live on its past hype and can come up with nothing new.

Then in August, we had another television show focusing on a family and its members at home, and that changed the situation by a long way. After watching television continuously for a long time during the pandemic, we had lost interest in watching anything anymore, and that was evident in the time spent in front of the television in the later stages. Chakkapazham which started its journey on August 10 was quick to catch our attention, and we have been watching the show without fail, every day from Monday to Friday. Even the presence of the WWE-like entertainment like IPL didn’t change that as we were stuck to this show like never before. It is after a long time that a programme has created such an effect.

This show feels that good because of its funny side which works so well, without adding any emotional side in between. Uppum Mulakum and Thatteem Mutteem have the tendency to turn emotional at times, but Chakkapazham manages to be a complete comedy with feel-good elements. The funny moments are all effective, thanks to a group of talented actors and actresses doing a great job. Lead by SP Sreekumar who plays Uthaman, a veterinary compounder who take care of the house which has more members than one would expect. The members of the family include Uthaman, his wife Asha, their three children, his jobless young brother Sumesh, his sister Painkili and her son, his brother-in-law who visits at times, his parents and also his grandmother.

SP Sreekumar is no stranger to us, as we have known him from Marimaayam, and as that villain in Memories. He does a natural job in the series as he has been doing for a long time. Aswathy Sreekanth who plays his wife makes the entry into acting from anchoring here with a touch of comedy, really well. Shruthi Rajnikanth who plays the sister Painkili is a joy to watch, and it is her along with Mohammed Raffi who plays the brother Sumesh that elevates the comedy to the highest level. Both are united by the interest in doing nothing, and if the former’s main interest is in sleeping, the latter spends his time trying to find some way of making the family members fight with each other or find any way of making some quick money without hardwork.

Arjun Somasekhar who plays Painkili’s husband Shivan makes some nice appearances, even though he is not there in all episodes. In his acting debut, he brings some memorable, funny moments. Amal Rajdev plays Kunjunni, the father figure who pretends that he was a pilot in the airforce until retirement, while Sabeeta George plays the mother figure of Lalitha. Both are also interesting characters, and blend in really well. Indira Devi plays the grandmother who is also an integral part of the fun. The children are also really good, and they contribute to the tale so well. Such natural acting from child actors are rarely seen, but they just manage to make the whole thing better.

The fight scenes in the television series are funny, and it is to be noted that there is something very interesting coming up every time. The characters are people whom we fall in love with – they are all simple people, and their life and tales are also really simple, even though strange in a really funny manner as we look at it. I would say that the best thing which started in television during these days is this programme, and telecasted at the same time as Thatteem Mutteem in Mazhavil Manorama, this one is sure to have won the battle. Flowers channel seems to have programmes for all categories of people – even Star Magic and Koodathayi seems to be much loved, while in the case of Mazhavil Manorama, we only have the new and updated Udan Panam, which thrives on its anchors.

At the same time when Koodathayi and Star Magic are running in Flowers, we have Udan Panam in Mazhavil Manorama, a show which has been lifted to the next level, thanks to its new anchors, Meenakshi and Dain. One has to say that other than these, there is not much that can be watched on television these days. There are the movies for sure, like Kilometres and Kilometers being released on Asianet, and we also have those songs which can be watched here and there. Then we only have the sports. Well, with the COVID-19 cases showing no signs of coming down in number, and the number of deaths increasing, we need to stay more at home, but there is not enough entertainment within, and the need to work is also not the same for everyone.

***The images used in this blog post are promotions used by Flowers TV.

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TeNy

Satire of White Elephants

Even though Marimayam of Mazhavil Manorama is the better known satire on Malayalam television channels, there is another program which is aired at 10:30 PM every Saturday and Sunday, keeping a high standard for itself too. Vellanakalude Nadu, the satire shown on Asianet has its name inspired from the 1988 drama satire directed by Priyadarshan, scripted by Sreenivasan and produced by Maniyanpilla Raju. It had Mohanlal and Shobhana in the leading roles supported by a fine group of popular names of that time.

With its memorable comic scenes and its work as a political satire on the system as well as the people who were around it, the movie is often considered as a classic even though its Hindi remake Khatta Meeta with Akshay Kumar and Trisha Krishnan in the lead roles didn’t do that much. Translated as “The Land of White Elephants” with its title, this television series deals with the random situations that a common household come against, and it usually has someone from outside trying to interfere with their lives.

The last week’s episode had the protagonists, Sivadasan and Kunjumol being fooled in the name of providing visa to work in the Middle East. It is a commonly used idea, and the episode actually added an addition layer to it along with creating some more funny situations with the neighbours and the relatives. Cheating related to visa has been quite common with agents making fools of the people who are in need of an urgent job. Such characters are also common, making an appearance also in the recently released realistic flick, Pathemari.

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All the stories revolve around the two protagonists, and the rest of the cast actually changes their personalities. Susu is the neighbour and friend of Kunjumol, but both friends are jealous of each other. Susu’s husband is played by two actors, one playing the character called Vinod and another Jimmy. Both characters are part of the television series in one role or the other, with one who doesn’t play the husband role plays another person in the locality. Another character is Manjulan who comes up with something new every episode.

The rest of the characters include the sister and brother-in-law of Sivadasan along with two other characters from the locality. The need for them arises according to the story of the episode. There are times when the story is almost fully shot inside one house only. Sometimes there will be more focus on the different offices. The episode usually starts with Sivadasan and Kunjumol, ending it also with them, with other characters dropping in between. There have been a few exceptions about it though.

There have been a good number of interesting episodes in Vellanakalude Nadu, and almost all of them have left some nice and valuable messages on the society. There was one episode which dealt with the mobile tower related issue and another one with the phenomenon of fake certificates. The issue of companies making false promises towards its customers, was one of the best taken episodes. They could even take the common problem of alcoholism and bring the message in a very interesting way.

The advantage of this program is that the cast is not just very good, but they are also a lot suitable for the characters which they play here. The earlier episodes were different though, set more in the offices than anywhere else in the Marimayam style, and the characters were also somewhat different, even with the core remaining the same. The change of the focus to houses instead of the offices has helped the program to bring an identity of its own, different from Marimayam, and it has been a good positive thing which will make sure that the program does better!

***The image used in this blog post is a screenshot of the first screen of a video shared by Asianet.

TeNy

The Weekend Satire

There is a certain amount of difficulty in finding the interesting satires these days. As far as the movies are concerned, the last big one goes a long way back to Pranchiyettan and the Saint as a full satire, even though there were others with some qualities of the genre. Bringing effective full satire to the audience needs a lot of skill and understanding the viewers as well as the society in a critical way. It is clear that most of the television programs never really understands what the viewers want. But there are surely exception in the same field.

There are two programs which successfully brings the satire to the next level though. One of them is Marimayam which deals with the corruption in government offices and other institutions, and makes fun of the situations. Broadcasted on Mazhavil Manorama on Saturdays and Sundays at 9:00 PM, it is one of the longest running satires ever in a Malayalam channel. Meanwhile, the second one is Vellanakalude Nadu which is broadcasted on Asianet at 10:30 PM every Sunday, bringing the satire related mainly to two families and their surroundings.

tvmarimayam

Existing since the time we remember Mazhavil Manorama has come to the viewers, Marimayam still continues its awesome journey. Even with its major actors S. P. Sreekumar and Rachana Narayanankutty not being part of the program, the rest does manage to hold things together. This Saturday had the funny version of how KSEB had decided to charge extra money if people are not at home when the employees come home to take the electricity meter reading. It was another fun episode to watch, and proves to be very interesting to the audience.

The Sunday version was even funnier with the episode dealing with dogs, dog lovers, common people and the government authorities, taking the satire in the right direction concerning the recent events. Another program in Mazhavil Manorama, the family comedy serial, Thatteem Mutteem also had the same theme this weekend, and Marimayam successfully takes it to the next level. We are given some idea about how it is going to be on Saturday itself. This is more of an episode which understands the pulse of the audience.

It is difficult to watch anything else when Badai Bunglaw is running on Asianet, but Marimayam has the worthy episodes which make us do the channel change in its direction. The last week’s flex episode was one of them; the same can be said about the episode on how people fall victim to money lending firms, and now this one is there for the week. This episode has one of the characters being bitten by a dog and in retaliation, the person beats the dog, and all of a sudden, the dog lovers appear.

What follows this incident is a series of funny situations which lead to an even funnier finish with the message that we can take to heart. There is the talk about how co-existence is something which is not forced, but has to come from mutual understanding and respect, and with respect for the life of the other – it is not hate that brings co-existence to life, for situations are not always the same. It is also the two hundredth episode of the same program.

Marimayam is the political and social satire which you have been looking for!

Lets get to the other program. Vellanakalude Nadu had a nice weekend earlier with a simple story. But this weekend’s show had a higher level of comedy. Beginning the episode at a police station, this one starts and ends with full fun, even though a message is less conveyed. The two programs made sure that this weekend was more fun than it was expected to be, at least the nights. Add the episodes of Badai Bunglaw and Onnum Onnum Moonu and that finishes the interesting weekend!

***The images used in this blog post are from the official Facebook Page of Marimayam.

TeNy