With the arrival of hit movies like 'Classmates', 'Autograph' and 'Rock On', the feel of nostalgia had become a strong selling point of many films. The latest to be added to the list is 'Last Bench', from debutante director Jiju Ashokan. This time he is banking on the adolescent days and life at schooling of a group of four who were enjoying their mischievous, roguish and aimless days at the back bench of Mahatma School, Mukundapuram.
The movie features Mahesh (Angaditheru Fame), Vijeesh (Noolunda), Biyon, Musthafa (Palerimanikyam Fame) in the lead as lolappy Rejimon, Trouser Joshy , Pathemary Rasheed and Ramanujam Samkutty respectively. Succumbing to every cheers and enlightments of the age, they were at the receiving end of the routine punishments from teachers and their parents always ridiculing them and classmates fearing them. With the arrival of Rosylyn (Sukanya) their new teacher of Physics, who first turn a foe and then their biggest inspiration and guide light, the last benchers gradually changes into the front runners in academics and marks. A Mumbai bred girl's late admission to the school also brings in space for a love angle in the plot.
The movie is narrated as the memoirs of the group who are now leading a worthy and successful life and are uniting after long years to attend the marriage of Reji. But on the eventful night before his marriage, the foursome is destined to witness a lot more sequels to their school life.
The movie is built on a fine thread and sequences that works mainly for its depth of emotions and nostalgia, giving the air of many recent Tamil films telling rustic village stories. Since it is the adolescent age that the director tackles, every viewer may get something in these classes that he could well relate to. And that seems to be the biggest USP of the film. Though scripted well, the direction leaves much to be wanted to fashion the movie as an engrossing entertainer. Many sequences are done well but some appear unwantedly stretched like the last day of the students in school, which goes on and on. More over Sukanya, clad in heavy makeup comes up in an over the board performance, that takes out the charm of the simple story.
All the youngsters in the lead have come up with adequate performances. While Mahesh just continue with his Ángaditheru' act, Beyonne, Musthafa and Vijeesh has meaty roles. The technical sides headed by debutantes Lijo Paul in editing and Prakash Velayudhan behind camera is notable. The songs by Vishnu Sharath and Mohan Sithara sink well with the mood of the movie.
Though with its share of pitfalls, 'Last bench' is better than what you expect it to be. But the film arrives with lesser stars, minimal awareness and promotion and that might curtail its prospects to a large extent.