After the pre-release build up in the media- both print and television, I decided to watch the movie Adaminte Makan Abu today. I returned disappointed. The story line is very flat, without even a moment of anxiety, concern or drama. Unlike the mention in the media, this is a story of an aged couple making an effort to go on Haj pilgrimage, and not the travails of one man making that effort. The movie has no trials, no tribulations, no pathos.
Almost in a documentary fashion, the narrative is about how Abu and his wife Aiyussu, played by Salim Kumar and Zarina Wahab respectively work towards making their life long desire to go on Haj Pilgrimage. The narrative tells you how to apply to the Haj Committee, or go through a private travel agency like Akbar Travels. Starting from applying for a passport to organizing money- which the couple has been doing over years by Abu selling Attar and religious books and his wife by selling milk and assorted fruits and vegetables in their compound to getting tickets, the entire process is portrayed in the film. They only wish their son in Dubai would help. Their efforts to make sufficient money fail, and they do not take any loan as Haj pilgrimage is to be performed with one’s own money.
The story just goes along in one dimension without any element of drama. There is a sub plot of the local teashop owner Hyder’s imagination making his aged tenant ‘Ustad’ as someone with extra sensory powers, which is eventually shown as a figment of Hyder’s imagination (see the freeze frame of the trailer above). There is just one dialogue which holds your attention. From the comic roles he has been acting, Salim Kumar has done well do be a 75 year old man, with great deal of help from make up man Pattanam Rashid.
The story has steered clear from the most difficult phase the religion of Islam and Malabar area is facing, and it is difficult to imagine that lives are not affected by religious fundamentalism. Haj pilgrimage as a subject fits in well to bring in that dimension to the story, but has been bypassed.
If this is an experiment in bringing art or parallel cinema to mainstream viewers, there has been better ones before. Quite disappointing for a national award winning film.