premalu (film, 2024) ↓

These are just my thoughts. Please do not consider this a typical movie review.

I've seen my fair share of romantic comedies over the years. However, experiencing Girish A.D's latest directorial venture ‘Premalu’ was a stark reminder that maybe, just maybe, I'm starting to get a little too old for certain genres.

Don't get me wrong, the film isn't bad. Girish and his young cast delivered an entertaining enough product to delight teenagers and twenty-somethings. But as a guy in his thirties, I couldn't help but feel removed from the characters and their situations. The heart of the story about first loves, awkward friendships, and finding one's way in a new city is universal. Yet, how it was delivered made me keenly aware of my generational separation.

The movie follows Sachin, a recent engineering graduate who relocates from Kerala to Hyderabad after a failed romance back home. There, he meets Reenu, a young professional working in the tech sector, and hijinks ensue as he tries to woo her while competing against his annoying friend Aadhi. Sachin is played to great comedic effect by newcomer Naslen, capturing the naivety, emotional immaturity, and flawed decision-making that are hallmarks of early adulthood.

He stumbles through life and relationships with little self-awareness, driven only by impulse and insecurity. It's easy to understand how these fumbled beginnings would resonate strongly with an audience just setting out on their path. However, I was cringing at his inability to properly communicate or respect boundaries. My sympathy started wavering as his actions veered towards being creepy rather than cute. Perhaps this is the inevitable result of having lived and learned enough not to repeat such mistakes.

Mamitha Baiju, as the likable yet grounded heroine Reenu, brings much-needed balance, playing her part with admirable subtlety. But even her character is written and behaves in a very idealized, innocent manner, befitting someone much younger.

Even the comedic antics and friendship dynamics didn't fully land for me -- the way they clearly did for "ticket-buying" crowds. Sangeeth Prathap hamming it up as Sachin's silly sidekick Amal Davis had its moments. But too many gags relied on running jokes, slapstick, or saying inappropriate things purely for shock value rather than inventiveness. The friend group's bounding felt formulaic and one-dimensional -- where I wanted complexity.

Visually, the film is a treat, ushering in a new generation of talent behind the camera. But even here, I noticed the emphasis on sun-drenched, aesthetically composed wide shots felt like it was trying too hard to be "Instagrammable". Perhaps that's an inevitable clash of sensibilities.

Furthermore, the moments designed to elicit big emotions from young hearts struck me as superficial and pandering. Conflicts seemed too easily resolved without satisfactory character development. Subplots appeared perfunctory rather than meaningfully layered. Perhaps I'm just getting too cynical, analytical, and impatient with formula. Or maybe real life has distanced me from relating to carefree, carelessly whimsical coming-of-age stories.

To be clear, these are hardly deal-breaking criticisms. Premalu succeeds handsomely at what it set out to do - provide escapist entertainment and make profits. But viewing it through my jaded lens, I couldn't help but feel I've matured out of its core appeal. Instead of being swept by its charms, I was too aware of its contrivances and predictability.

Not every film needs to be a cinematic masterpiece. Sometimes, you just need to switch off your brain and unwind for a couple of hours, which I'm sure many found Premalu delivered on.