Seeing how the climax of indrajith sukumaran aaha’s new movie focuses on the spirit of tug-of-war sport, I really wished he had better preparation in the first half. Directed and edited by newcomer Bibin Paul Samuel, Aaha is definitely not a lazy product. but somewhere it felt like an overwritten product that needed better focus in the early portions. the balance between gameplay and the character’s personal emotions needed a little more fine-tuning.
The film is inspired by the story of the outstanding Kerala tug-of-war team, Aha Neeloor. in the 80s, they were an unbeatable team. But Geevarghese’s team loses a crucial match due to their Front Koch’s mistake. that error ended in the dissolution of the team aha. Today, Koch has dropped all his association with tug-of-war and lives a lonely life after the death of his wife. a young man named ani decided to create a team for neeloor, and the story of the movie aaha is the journey of that team that had koch as the coach.
Sports dramas are always hard to crack because the audience knows the end result so well. We know that the teams of Bhuvan and Kabir Khan will ultimately emerge as the winners in the climax. so the hard part in a sports drama is making the characters’ journey believable or relatable on an emotional level. Writer Tobit Chirayath is really aware of this aspect and has created a fighting story for each character. but the problem is the emotional impact that we experience on the screen. when koch uses the insults each of the players face in real life as a tool to motivate them, i really loved the build up to that moment. but the problem is, until that point, the movie can’t really get us to root for those characters. Ani faces humiliation because of her marriage. another has religious problems, and so each member of the team has a problem. had they established those clues effectively, the climax would have succeeded in creating goosebumps.
indrajith sukumaran plays two phases in koch’s life. the previous version shows him as a quiet guy who doesn’t want to interfere in anything, and the change to become that strict coach was perfect. amith chakalakkal was fine in terms of acting, but the partially comedic tone of his character introduction causes problems. ashwin kumar was good in his role and his vigor helped the movie a lot in the later parts. aswath lal’s was a performance that stuck with me after the movie.
edited and directed by bibin paul samuel, i felt he was very reluctant to cut scenes that didn’t help the movie have that snap. there are parts in the script where the movie goes on too long, which reduces the area for us to witness the growth of the team. the new team’s rise from being an absolute nobody to a champion team is happening in a very fast time span. they knew the ingredients needed to create a sports drama, but the proportion was a bit messy.
aaha it’s a movie that can be seen with pacing problems. the structure that we see in all sports dramas is also visible here. but the weight given to the characters’ backstories was too much. a neater rendering of the backstories would have made it that much more compelling. for example, the only character I supported was binayak, the “Bengali” who may not have seen the dubbing studio.