‘Aadujeevitham – The Goat Life’ movie review: Prithviraj’s performance drives a survival drama that borders on monotony

Prithviraj stars in ‘Aadujeevitham: The Tale of Survival’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Life’s challenges have the power to completely transform an individual, not just physically, but in ways one may not always see. Blessy’s Aadujeevitham is a narrative based on true events, revolving around a man trapped in quasi-slavery at a desert goat farm, delving deep into such transformations.

It’s fascinating to see the film explore the protagonist’s linguistic barriers. Prithviraj Sukumaran, playing Najeeb, struggles with any language but Malayalam upon arriving at a Saudi airport, which becomes pivotal in the subsequent misfortunes he faces.

As time passes, isolated and abused at the farm, Najeeb starts to lose grasp of his native tongue, his attempts at speech morphing into goat-like bleats upon a reunion with an old friend. Aadujeevitham offers a mixture of poignant and nuanced moments amid the overarching theme of misery, such as a malnourished Najeeb treasuring a rare moment to bathe, temporarily free from the confines of his harsh life.

Benyamin’s widely-read novel, the film’s inspiration, indulges in the protagonist’s anguish almost to the point of tediousness. The adaptation adheres closely to the source material, with only minor deviations, particularly in its avoidance of explicit depictions of Najeeb’s sexual yearnings.

Aadujeevitham: The Tale of Survival (Malayalam)

Director: Blessy

Cast: Prithviraj, Amala Paul, Jimmy Jean-Louis, K.R.Gokul

Runtime: 173 minutes

Storyline: Najeeb Muhammed sets off for Saudi Arabia in hopes of a prosperous future, only to find himself ensnared in deplorable conditions on a remote goat farm

Blessy, known for masterfully pulling at the audience’s heartstrings, endeavors to do so again in this film. Certain sequences tug at the emotions convincingly, while others fail to fully engage the audience despite the evident difficulties in bringing them to the screen. Some of the film’s repetitive elements evoke a sense of desolation akin to the unending desert dunes, rather than providing a glimpse of hoped-for vitality.

In the midst of expansive desert vistas, raging sandstorms, and diminished humanity, Prithviraj’s incredible physical and emotional metamorphosis shines. He embodies Najeeb’s excruciating ordeals, achieving perhaps the most impressive performance of his career through a profound internalization of the character.

A.R. Rahman graces a Malayalam film with a rare score, crafting a soundtrack that perfectly captures the essence and backdrop, notably through the song ‘Periyone’. The glimpses of Najeeb’s past life offer stark contrast, with a visually stunning transition from a peaceful river to the harsh desert at the conclusion of a musical number. Amala Paul is given a brief role that scarcely allows for her acting prowess to shine.

If sheer effort were the measure of cinematic excellence, Aadujeevitham would be at the top of the list. Much of the labor invested does indeed bear fruit, leaving one to yearn for a script with enough substance to interrupt the occasional onset of tedium.

Aadujeevitham: The Tale of Survival is now showing in theaters.

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