18 Plus review: Director Arun D Jose’s rom-com criticises casteism in Kerala

The Naslen and Meenakshi-starrer is vocal about political parties, their double standards, infightings, and caste politics.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published:Aug 10, 2023

18 Plus
Has its moments.

18 Plus (Malayalam)

  • Cast: Naslen, Meenakshi, Mathew Thomas, Nikhila Vimal, Binu Pappu, and Rajesh Madhav
  • Director: Arun D Jose
  • Music: Christo Xavier
  • Producer: Falooda Entertainments and Reels Magic
  • Runtime: 2 hours 4 minutes

When director Arun D Jose announced his second project (18 Plus), hopes ran high among movie lovers that it would be as big a hit as his debut film Jo and Jo, which was released during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022.

Interestingly, in his second outing too, Arun retained most of the actors from his debut movie.

As the title suggests, 18 Plus: Journey of Love is a romantic comedy set in Vadakara, Kozhikode district. It deals with the love story between Akhil (Naslen) and Athira (Meenakshi) and the incidents that lead to their marriage.

Routine love story

18 Plus: Journey of Love is a normal love story that portrays the usual confusion between lovers, eloping, register marriage and everything essential that’s needed for a rom-com.

18 Plus is a romantic comedy

’18 Plus’ is a romantic comedy. (Supplied)

Akhil and Athira are in love for three years. One fine day, they decide to elope. However, Akhil, his friends Renju (Safwan) and Pattar (Anshid) decide to seek the help of Rajesh (Binu Pappu) who eloped and married his love interest.

Rajesh helps the duo in getting married against the parents’ wishes.

But Athira’s father Raveendran (Manoj KU) files a kidnap case with the police. He is an influential Communist party leader. Athira’s brother Arjun (Rahul), too, is against the wedding.

Akhil, a party worker himself, has a close friend Deepak (Mathew Thomas) who helps the couple deal with this situation. You have to watch the film to know how.

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Takes a dig at political parties

The Naslen-Mathew duo is one of the most successful pairs in the industry. Even their recent film Neymar (2023) was a hit.

While Naslen gets more screen space in 18 Plus, Mathew plays a serious character, much unlike his usually lighter roles.

18 Plus is directed by Arun D Jose

’18 Plus’ is directed by Arun D Jose. (Supplied)

Set in northern Kerala, 18 Plus mentions how political parties play an important role in the daily lives of the cadre and workers. It also speaks about how the Communist Party plays a key role in marrying off lovers, especially inter-caste and inter-religious couples.

The movie is also vocal about the double standards adopted by party leaders.

For example, in a court scene, Raveendran opines that Akhil’s family should not have been entertained as they belong to a backward caste. To this, the magistrate (Nikhila Vimal) reacts sharply by chiding him to follow and apply the moral values he usually preaches in the case of his family, too.

The infightings or differences of opinion among party leaders also get mentioned in 18 Plus, much like the recent films Higuita and Padachone Ingalu Kaatholee which were set in the northern Kerala region.

18 Plus: Journey of Love is much similar to Arun D Jose’s debut flick Jo and Jo. However, he added a few elements here and there like humour.

He made a good choice though with regard to casting. The young actors would certainly draw audiences to theatres, especially families who are of late not visiting cinema halls for various reasons.

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Binu Pappu and Naslen play key roles in 18 Plus

Binu Pappu and Naslen play key roles in ’18 Plus’. (Supplied)

18 Plus offers several good moments for newcomers.

Safwan and Anshid as Renju and Pattar erupt a huge laughter inside the theatre. They really score well in some scenes.

Naslen appears his usual kind, especially in comedy scenes — which is his comfort zone. The actor needs to try other serious roles, too.

Mathew Thomas is good in the serious role.

Meenakshi as Athira plays her part well, particularly in the climax.

Binu Pappu is admirable. In a scene where he along with Akhil and friends escape from Raveendran in a tempo traveller, all the actors in the scene deliver their best.

Nikhila Vimal appears in a key role as the district magistrate. Her frustration inside her cabin, when she struggles to make a decision in certain cases, is something new for the audience.

Rajesh Madhav as advocate Satish is appreciable.

Also Read: ‘Rangabali’ falls slightly short of becoming a hit for Naga Shaurya

Technical aspects

18 Plus has songs and background music composed by Christo Xavier who does a good job.

With a runtime of 2 hours and 6 minutes, it makes for a fine watch.

The editing by Chaman Chacko is decent.

Cinematographer Satheesh Kurup does justice to the movie.

Final take

18 Plus: Journey of Love is a romantic comedy with some fine moments.

(Views expressed here are personal.)