Aravindan (Jayaram) longs to get married, but he’s waiting for the perfect girl. A Chakyar Koothu performer, he wants a girl who will share not only his life, but who can dance, too. His friend, George Kutty (Kottayam Nazeer), finds just the girl for him via a computer matchmaking service.
The two families meet, Aravindan and Aswathy (Bhavana) hit it off, and the marriage is arranged. Aswathy’s family has one demand: the mangalsutra that Aravindan will tie around Aswathy’s neck must be handed to him by the eldest uncle in the family.
Aravindan’s family travels to Kochi for the wedding in the Kudumbasree Travels bus, and everything seems set for the wedding to occur at the auspicious time (as decreed by the astrologer), but before Aravindan can tie the mangalsutra, the auspicious time passes, and the astrologer stops the wedding.
A new time is set for the wedding, but what Aravindan and Aswathy don’t realize is that there are more forces out there than just their horoscopes to interfere with their marriage plans. Aravindan’s uncle (Jagathy Sreekumar) wants Aravindan to marry *his* daughter, and tries, with the help of his own fraudulent astrologer friend, to stop the wedding. Aswathy’s fashion designer friend has designs on her, wanting to stop the marriage to Aravindan so he can marry her himself.
One unexpected wedding guest is Sreedevi (Radhika), the daughter of a police commissioner who has been kidnapped. The kidnappers give Sreedevi a suitcase containing a bomb (which they will activate later) and some money. She gets on the wedding bus with some relatives of Aravindan, and they all assume she is Hemalatha, a relative that none of them has seen since she was a small girl.
The wedding, the attempts to stop the wedding, the bomb – all of these stories will eventually combine in a chase to the end of the film, as Aravindan attempts to rescue Aswathy (kidnapped in turn by the fashion designer), as both their families try to find them, as the fraudulent astrologer tries to swap the suitcase with a duplicate so he can take the money, as the police commissioner (who escapes with the help of Aravindan and Aswathy) tries to find his daughter and make sure the bomb is diffused.
Kudumbasree Travels promises “tons of fun on wheels”, but, sadly, I have to admit that what it delivers is a whole lot less. For me, I think this is due, in part, to the fact that I’ve yet to warm up to Jayaram. Perhaps I’ve yet to see the right film, but Kudumbasree Travels isn’t it, though he’s not bad. I think my main issue is that the film proves that the Malayalam industry isn’t immune to the problem of aging heroes taking on roles that aren’t really suitable for them anymore.
Actually, let me use this as an opportunity to rant a little bit, because I’ve become increasingly irritated at the rampant ageism that’s out there. Sexism, racism, size-ism – all of these have been declared off limits, yet it’s still fair game to make fun of someone’s age, to make assumptions about what one can or should not do at a certain age – to be honest, it drives me batty. I take solace in the fact that the worst offenders – the ones who seem to suggest that once someone turns forty they should pretty much stop living – well, one day, they’ll turn forty, and then they’ll be on the receiving end of that ageist nonsense.
That said, though – even I have to admit that there are times when I watch a film and realize that an actor has taken on a role that really *is* more suited to a more age-appropriate actor – 3 Idiots was a perfect example of that, where it’s impossible for Aamir Khan to seem remotely right in the role of a college student, no matter how hard I try to suspend disbelief, no matter how good an actor he is. And even if I give Kudumbasree Travels the benefit of the doubt – if I believe that Aravindan really is just a middle aged performer who just has never found the right girl – well. Actually, I tried that, and it didn’t work. It just felt to me that Aravindan could be a little bit older, but not a man in his forties. His personality, his experience, all of it made me wish the role had been given to one of the up and coming Malayalam actors.
But I don’t want this to imply in any way, shape or form that once actors hit the age of forty that they should be forbidden from action, romance, all the stuff that makes films worth watching. I just want that to be framed in a setting and character that’s more age appropriate.
So if the film has given me anything worthwhile to share, it’s that. Enough with dissing people over forty and calling them old. They aren’t. They are still in the prime of life and vibrant, capable, talented people.
That said, Kudumbasree Travels did manage to keep me mildly entertained at times. I am, however, easily amused at slapstick involving the duplicate suitcase and a crazy swamy who spends much of his time starting out into the middle distance, and occasionally sharing words of wisdom:
It’s true, too, that any plot that involves much staring at a clock will automatically go into my good books, and Kudumbasree Travels pays out in spades, mostly involving the will they/won’t they marriage story.
In fact, one of the best clock sequences in the film involves the hands of the clock spinning, time passing, and eventually giving us the title card for the interval:
But that's not all! There's also this gem of a clock that Aravindan stares at, watching the time for the next auspicious moment to attempt the marriage with Aswathy:
Sadly, though, as much as this adds to the experience for me, the film manages to lose points by taking two of my favorite actresses, Bhavana and Radhika, and pushing them to the sidelines, mostly reacting with consternation or frustration at what is happening around them. But I'll save a rant on the limited roles given to actresses for March.
In the end, Kudumbasree Travels was a bit of all right, made me laugh genuinely out loud a few times, and was mildly entertaining the rest of it.