The story follows the journey of ‘Faizal Abdul Razaq’ aka ‘Faizee’ (Dulquar), the youngest and only son of a household consisting of four sisters and a businessman father (Siddique). With his mother’s death soon after his birth, he and his sisters are brought to Dubai, where their father is busy setting up his business- Faizee is thus brought up by his four sisters. Being the most cherished of ‘Abdul Razaq’s children, his father sees in him, the perfect son who would fulfill his dream of setting up and managing a five-star hotel in his hometown Kozhikode. Faizee is sent to Switzerland to do an MBA, but contrary to his father’s beliefs and wishes, he studies to become a Chef.
After studies, all he wants is to settle in London as a Chef in a known five-star hotel, and to move in with his foreigner girlfriend ‘Christina’. His father though, has different plans for him, disturbed by which, Faizee moves out of his father’s house and goes to live with his grandfather ‘Kareem’ (Thilakan), who runs a small restaurant named ‘Usthad Hotel’ at the Kozhikode beach. The relationship that the grandfather and grandson shares, and how ‘Faizee’s “kismat” takes a turn, forms the rest of the story.
Dulquar Salman, Thilakan, Nithya Menon, Mamukkoya, Siddique
As Mamukkoya says while starting the narration, Faizee’s story had started way before he was born. Faizee’s story is not separate from the story of his grandfather Kareem, or the story of Usthad Hotel. The film stands apart not with a stellar cast or power-packed action, but with the script which would find its place among the most refreshing ones that Malayalam cinema has seen in recent times. A well-conceived, thought out, balanced and well-executed movie in all aspects, every moment of the film tastes fresh in my mind even if it has been two days since I watched it- like a glass of hot-served “Sulaimani”.
Watch the movie for:
- Story: Anjali Menon’s story is like a perfectly prepared Malabari Biriyani, with each ingredient added in the right proportion, making for a well-balanced, delicious treat for the viewer.
- Characters: One of the most believable and diverse set of characters seen in a long time in Malayalam cinema. While we have ‘Faizee’, ‘Shahana’ (Nithya Menon), Faizee’s sisters and the music band members to represent the newer generation, we also have Thilakan’s ‘Kareemikka’ to represent the older generation, and Siddique’s ‘Abdul Razaq’, who is caught somewhere in the middle of the two generations. There isn’t a perfect, selfless hero here - even when his grandfather lies in the hospital, what ‘Faizee’ fears is what if he asks him to stay back in India forsaking the dream job that awaits him in France. One might debate the role of Nithya Menon’s character, but then, as Kareemikka says, what is “sulaimani” without a tinge of “mohabbat” in it?
- Music: Gopi Sundar’s songs and background music are catchy and cheerful, blending in perfectly with the story. One might doubt how the peppy number “Appangalembadum…” would blend in with the story, but as you watch the film you’ll find your doubts vanishing.
- Cinematography: Cinematography by Lokanathan is the work of a master. From the streets and the beach of Kozhikode to the slums of Madurai, Lokanathan gives us a visual treat that transports the viewers into those locales.
- Performances: Thilakan and Dulquar steal the show with their fine performance and chemistry. While Thilakan, with his portrayal of Kareem, cements his place as an irreplaceable actor in Malayalam cinema, Dulquar reinforces every praise that came his way after his debut movie Second Show. The rest of the cast, including Siddique, Nithya Menon and Mamukkoya complement them perfectly with fine portrayals of their respective roles.
- Flavour of Malabar: From that special “Kozhikodan” slang to the irresistible Biriyani, the flavour of the life and dreams of Malabar has been captured well.
- The complete package: A well-paced, humorous narrative that flows smooth. Director Anwar Rasheed has succeeded in mixing together every ingredient of the recipe, be it the story, the music, the visuals or the actor’s performances, in the right ratios, thus delivering a refreshing treat to the viewers.
Skip the movie for:
- I would have loved to leave this space blank, but then, for the sake of it, those who come expecting a fancy, filmy romance between the hero and the heroine might be a little disappointed- but for some others like me, that would just be another attraction.
A neat, simple, realistic tale of relationships, love, humanity and tastes, Usthad Hotel is a movie that Malayalam audience would cherish for years to come. The lessons that ‘Faizee’ learns of flavours and humanity are not just for him, but also for each and every one of us. A must-watch for anyone who would love to cherish good cinema!