I only have one complaint about Golden Star Ganesh’s home production, Maleyali Jotheyali - I didn’t get to see it in the theater! While I do have a nice television, it would have been amazing to see some of these gorgeous images on a large screen with an appreciative crowd. I completely understand why this one was a superhit and won best film at the Filmfare South Awards. Maleyali Jotheyali is a bittersweet (and very touching) romance that utilizes all of its resources incredibly well. From the cast to the beautiful natural settings to the story, everything is done to a craftsman-like perfection.
Maleyali Jotheyali follows good-natured, girl-crazy Bangalore boy Preetham (Golden Star Ganesh) as he escapes his father’s demands to marry by running off to stay with a friend’s grandfather in the countryside. Preetham meets not one, but two girls and gets caught up in the twists and turns of a love triangle. While you may think you know where this is going, you would be wrong. This isn’t a typical Betty-and-Veronica situation and Preetham is nothing like wishy-washy Archie Andrews. Mousy Anjali (Yuvika Chaudhary) is on to Preetham’s flirty tricks right from the beginning and agrees to help him win over bombshell Sandhya (Anjana Sukhani) in no small part just to get rid of him! As the trio spend more time together, the pretense falls aside and they all become good friends – no Kuch Kuch jealousies or makeovers necessary. It sounds like there is no conflict here but there is a lot of small dramas stirred up just within their interactions and Preetham isn’t the only one using a deception.
Golden Star Ganesh is the driving force of Maleyali Jotheyali and I wouldn’t have it any other way! More and more I am convinced that he really is the Shahrukh Khan of South Indian cinema – only Ganesh doesn’t have that hard edge to him. Shahrukh can be cruel but Ganesh never is. He has these kind, emotive eyes and a cheeky grin that make me want to believe whatever he’s saying. For example, Preetham has a 7-year old girl named Lucky who becomes a confidante to his love affairs. Almost any other actor would have been swallowed up by the twee-ness of it but Ganesh just nails the right mix of emotion to make it a touching and, importantly, believable friendship. After all, Preetham is the kind of guy who not only answers wrong numbers but talks to the person on the other end and that’s important. Human connections are important.
Despite the hero-focus, the two girls also get a lot of time to develop their well-rounded characters. Anjali (Yuvika Chaudhary) is a no-nonsense girl who finds herself drawn to Preetham’s zest for life and his fast talks, almost despite her best intentions. Yuvika, who I remembered immediately from Om Shanti Om, is a delight. Anjali is a bookish, intelligent girl and Yuvika manages to convey it without coming across as pedantic or a killjoy. The way she carries herself in those voluminous wraps shows why Ganesh initially passes her over as “plain” when Yuvika is anything but. And Yuvika’s expressive eyes and face raise an important question: why isn’t she working more?
Now, Anjana Sukhani is a delicious-looking diva and the costumer goes out of his or her way to put her in short skirts and shorts but the wardrobe and bombshell image is merely outside trappings. Sandhya is a more complex girl than her (literally) booty-shaking intro number (which you can watch here) would suggest. Sandhya, understandably, is tired of flirty men trying to get with her all the time and she’s shut herself off from romance. Preetham initially hooks her with an appeal to her sense of charity by making up a pathetic story about Anjali and Sandhya throws her whole heart into helping her out. She is no typical vamp… even if she does do the time-honored switch from miniskirt to sari once she falls in love. (Watch for it!)
There are few other things worth mentioning. The rain is beautifully shot and brought back memories of Mungaru Male, which was intentional, I think, because there were a handful of other references to that film. It set a wistful mood about the film and because a fourth main character. Another standout piece of the film were the songs. Not only was the music delightful and the picturizations are gorgeous and they were well placed in the film. My favorite was the opening number that showcased Preetham’s cavalier attitude towards love – and features some dialogues that come back in an clever way later in the film! Both the camera work and the choreography are really dynamic. Sweeping shots push into dancers who are running forward; whole crowds join in the dance; and Ganesh is limber as ever! I haven’t seen anything as energetic and just plain fun as this from Bollywood in ages… maybe “Jalwa” from Wanted.
(It's DEVDAS THE BUNNY!)
Maleyali Jotheyali is a film I would eagerly recommend to Bollywood fans who are looking for something with more honest emotion than dirty talks. It’s really a charming film and one more win for my favorite Kannada hero, Golden Star Ganesh!