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Malayalam director Abrid Shine hit the big leagues with his debut film 1983, which was followed by Action Hero Biju. Now he returns with his latest offering, Poomaram.

The campus tale explores the intricacies of an inter-college youth festival, which is backed by a brilliant screenplay and well-defined characters who are portrayed perfectly by a talented pool of newcomers, including Kalidas Jayaram.

The script moves away from the stereotypical tale of a couple in college who inevitably fall in love. Neither does it fall back on inane college humour and cinematic embroidery. Poomaram (Blooming Tree) refuses to conform to any formula.

Two rivals — Maharajas College and St Teresa College — go head-to-head in the annual Mahatama Gandhi Youth Festival. While Jayaram’s character Gauthaman leads the former, Irene (debutant Neeta Pilla) represents the defending champions, St Teresa.

Giving the audience a fly on the wall experience are ordinary situations that draw in viewers into a mosaic of events. It’s tiny details that enrich the tale: the anxiety as students gear up for the competitions, burning the midnight oil over rehearsals and the easy camaraderie that is present in college setup.

It’s not the regular star launch for Jayaram, who makes his debut in Malayalam cinema. His Gauthaman is a calm and composed leader. He delivers a subtle performance proving that he can shoulder a mature role well. Pillai’s Irene is dynamic and brimming with energy. Irene’s earnestness is reflected in every scene.

Holding Poomaram aloft are supporting actors who play their parts well; some reminding you of an old friend from your college days.

Cinematographer Gnanam Subramanian’s camera travels wide into the campus — one moment in the dressing room, next amidst the students on the grounds and then hovering over the stage where competitions abound. The ambience is alive with a vibrant energy in every frame. The film’s climax is poetry.

Poomaram celebrates college life and gently stirs up the nooks of nostalgia.