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Malayalam film C/O Saira Banu lauds maternal love as it dwells on two mothers who will go to any length for the sake of their sons.

With a cast tailor made for each character and marked with effortless performances, this debut venture of scriptwriter R.J. Shaan and director Antony Sony impresses with its poignant moments.

Single mother Saira Banu’s (Manju Warrier) life revolves around her son Joshua (Shane Nigam), an aspiring photographer. So when his life and dreams are threatened, Banu is not going to watch mutely or wallow in self-pity. This small town post-woman who has not studied beyond high school takes up his case even if it means standing up against Annie John Tharavadi’s (Amala) stature, the infallible lawyer with a reputation for winning her cases.

Annie, a single mother with a school-going son, gives in to the boy’s whims leading to an unfortunate incident. How far will the two mothers go to protect their sons?

Without becoming a melancholy drama, C/O Saira Banu is a tale of tiny joys of life interspersed with humour and love.

If Warrier’s How Old Are You? brought her back with emphasis, C/O Saira Banu is a David-versus-Goliath tale that shows there’s a lot more to be drawn from actresses.

Warrier walks with ease as Banu, be it in attitude and in the endearing moments she savours as Joshua’s mother.

It was a well-conceived scene where Banu, with eyes bristling with eye drops, is asked by Joshua to open them as he has a surprise to show her — his scholarship letter from National Geographic.

Amala’s fans are in for a treat. The Ente Suryaputhiri actress returns in a role marked with a brilliant performance. Her Annie John is mature and debonair. Known for her adherence to truth and justice, Annie finds herself seeking cover under her lawyer’s cloak in a bid to save her son.

Amala’s little nuances of expression make moments from Annie’s life so convincing — Annie’s fear and insecurity as she watches Banu interacting with her son and later in court when facing Banu. Bringing layers to her character, she reveals the shade of gray in all of us that sometimes raises its head.

Complementing Warrier’s performance is Shane Nigam. As Joshua, the law student searching for his identity as Peter George’s son, Nigam’s acting is in the right measure; not even once does he go overboard.

Shan’s powerful writing breathes life into his characters. The screenplay is commendable; it does not slacken nor is it interrupted with inane comedy and songs.

The film opens into the kitchen of a lower middle-class home to reveal a pan of milk simmering over a stove that will boil over any moment, while a pressure cooker on the adjacent burner raises alarm with its whistles.

We are left to our imagination as we hear voices in conversation, a mother waking up her son as she goes about with the morning chores, in between hailing the fish vendor outside through the window.

I liked the way Banu’s single motherhood is woven into the story. Without glorifying Banu’s sacrifices, her relationship with Joshua’s father is revealed in a beautiful episode termed as the Hand of God.

Shaan’s writing celebrates the contemporary woman, independent and clear in matters of love. When Banu meets Arundhati (Niranjana Anoop), Joshua’s college mate presuming that they are in love, Arundhati clearly tells her that she was Joshua’s friend and nothing more. Anoop in the short space she occupies leaves her mark. Kanchana who won this year’s state award winner plays a small role, that of an Iyer woman who eats bread and omelette on the sly. Director Sony has drawn out a terrific performance from his team.

The film while informing the layman of a few basic rights in the Indian law, it raises questions on the identity of the many migrant workers today in Kerala. Who are they? What is their security? What is the value attached to their lives?

It is a touching ode to motherhood when Banu arrives in Malda (West Bengal) carrying Ram Kishan’s (a migrant worker) letter to be delivered to his mother. As she inquires about the address, someone shouts “That is Janaki’s son” reminding us of a mother waiting for her son’s homecoming.

C/O Saira Banu is a beautifully made family drama with personal struggles lending an interesting twist.