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Aadujeevitham (The Goat Life): A heart wrenching survival drama led by an award winning performance from Prithviraj Sukumaran

An overindulgent second half does test the viewer’s patience but still there is a lot to savour

By

Prabhatha Rigobertha

April 7, 2024

Not so educated men going to gulf countries and working as labourers is a wide spread phenomenon. Their lack of education makes these men easy target and they often end up being slaves. Director Blessy has taken one such story from the novel Goat Days written by Benyamin. Survival dramas when done well make for gripping cinema and Aadujeevitham (The Goat Life) is a good example of that. It makes you feel strongly for the protagonist Najeeb and want him to come out safe.

Najeeb (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a man living happily with his wife Sainu (a charming Amala Paul) when the movie starts. He is from Kerala. In order to earn more money and give a better life to his family Najeeb decides to go to the gulf with his friend Hakim (K R Gokul). Upon reaching Saudi Arabia they find themselves in a clueless situation without knowing who their boss is.

Suddenly a local Arab approaches them. Najeeb and Hakim think that this Arab is their boss. Najeeb’s dreams of a better future come crashing down when he is dropped off in the middle of a desert to look after goats and camels.  Najeeb knows only Malayalam but that is of no use to him there. He struggles to communicate with the owner of that place known as Kafeel.

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He eventually becomes a goat herder with days turning into weeks, months and even years. Hope comes in the form of another immigrant an African by name Ibraham Khadiri (Jimmy Jean Lousis). Ibraham Khadiri promises to help Najeeb and Hakim to escape. The rest of the story is about the various hardships that they face and how Najeeb finally manages to get out of the desert and is able to reconnect with his family.

At audio launch with AR Rehman

A strong aspect of Aadujeevitham is how Blessy has presented the life of Najeeb in detail without any hurry. The flashback portions of Najeeb’s happy life in Kerala and his present situation has been well juxtaposed. Najeeb’s scenes with his wife give much needed relief in an otherwise heavy drama, the transformation of Najeeb from a healthy man swimming with abandon in the Kerala backwaters to someone who becomes very thin and unkempt gives Goosebumps to the viewers. A scene which deserves a particular mention here is the one when Najeeb checks himself in the mirror of a van after a long time and is astonished on how much his body has changed.

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Najeeb’s struggles in rearing the goats and how he develops a bond with them later has also been well depicted, there is a wonderful scene in the post interval portion where Najeeb breaks down while bidding goodbye to the goats and the camels. It is a heart touching scene.

Sunil K’s cinematography is another big highlight of Aadujeevitham. He does a splendid job in capturing both the beautiful back waters of Kerala and also the vast desert where Najeeb and Co undergo many hardships. His cinematography particularly stands out in the scenes of sand storm.

A.R Rahman’s songs and the background score also add much to the film. The BGM is a mixture of Arabic, Indian, Islamic etc. The songs come at the right juncture whether it is the romantic one with Amala Paul or the most intense theme song.

What pulls down Aadujeevitham though are the dragged post interval portions. The various hardships that Najeeb faces in going back home needed more trimming. While it is understandable that Blessy wants the viewers to empathise with the plight of Najeeb but a certain boredom creeps in making the audiences impatient. The character of Ibrahim is a little vague. We don’t understand why he is not tired, not thirsty like the other two.

Prithviraj, a superlative performance, with Amala Paul

A lot has been already said about Prithviraj Sukumaran’s performance and how he has gotten into the skin of the character. It is definitely a life changing performance for the actor. His physical transformation into a thin and unkempt man is on par with the best of international actors like Tom Hanks.

K R Gokul is another actor who stands out with his heart touching portrayal. Talib as Kafeel is successful in making the audiences hate him. Amala Paul does not have any heavy lifting but still she made her presence amply felt.

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Prabhatha Rigobertha
Prabhatha Rigobertha
Rigobertha Prabhatha has been writing on movies, web series, books, etc. on social media platforms like Facebook for a few years. He has a YouTube channel "prabhathalovesmovies" in which he posts video reviews. "I have only two windows to my world - movies and books" reads it's tagline. He is a student of English literature and currently working as Content Writer at Pudami Publications based in Hyderabad.

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