‘How old are you’ revolves around the life of Nirupama Rajeev, the character that Manju Warrier portrays. She lives an ordinary middle-class life of a UD clerk who works in one of the government departments. Her husband Rajeev(enacted by Kunchacko Boban)works with All India Radio. Their highly ambitious teenage daughter Lekshmi(done by Amritha Anil),Rajeev's father and mother (Kunchan and Kalaranjini),Nirupama's mother (Vanitha Krishnachandran), their family friend Sebastian sir (portrayed by Prem Prakash), Nirupama’s best friend from college Susan David (Kaniha), a few office colleagues of hers (Muthumani, Idavela Babu,Thesni Khan,Vinay Forte et al), a leading businessman (done by Devan), Madhaviamma enacted by Sethulakshmi - those are the other notable characters in the movie.
Nirupama, as we get to understand as the reels roll, is a mother in her mid-thirties. Despite being an intelligent student and a firebrand leader in her college days fearlessly opposing what she believes to be unjust, unfair and inequitable, she gives up her own dreams once she gets married and devotes herself to looking after her husband and child. But she always lags behind the expectations of both, and at a certain point in life finds herself alone and left out. Even though the script writers and the director do not tell us why and how a very intelligent student and fiery student leader as Nirupama was portrayed to be in her college days stoop to the level of an ignorant lady clerk with the least of common sense, general knowledge etc., she is shown as someone who always makes herself the subject of ridicule among friends and colleagues.
Due to to a sudden quirky turn of events, she also becomes the subject of jokes on Facebook. As always, she loses her face in front of her husband and daughter one more time, this time more terribly so. Unable to meet the expectations of her husband and daughter yet another time, she gets into an emotional vacuum. In the mean time, her husband succeeds in his dream to migrate to Ireland by securing visas for their daughter and himself. Nirupama gets abandoned once again. Despite her plea not to take a teenaged daughter away from her mother, he takes their teenaged daughter with him to Ireland, promising to have chit chat sessions over Skype whenever required. She watches helplessly as her husband and daughter flew away to Ireland.
Seeing Nirupama on Facebook, her old college-friend Susan David (enacted by Kaniha), an IIM alumnus and now the marketing chief of a conglomerate, comes in search of her and helps her resurrect the old Nirupama, full of vigour, zeal and zest. Susan convinces Nirupama to chase her dreams and to set right and put in order the priorities in her life. She transforms the meeky impassive government clerk to someone who walks with resolute strides and a head held high. Through a co-passenger of hers in her daily commute to office (Madhaviamma enacted by Sethulakshmi),Nirupama becomes famous for the organic vegetable garden that she has grown on her terrace and she inspires others to follow this initiative. Through this, Nirupama becomes the leader of the organic farming initiatives in the state and goes all the way up to the Rashtrapathi bhawan as a guest of the President of India, thus proving herself to her family and to the world that she finally leaves an indelible signature in her world and nobody can set an expiry date to a woman's dreams.
‘How old are you’ is an ode to the spirit of womanhood. There are obvious weaknesses in the story in that it bears a fairytale-like flavour and fragrance, and is certainly flawed in the way the lead character's transformation from a firebrand college girl to a docile wife/mother gets portrayed, but Manju has that X-factor in her that makes us forget all these.
Even though Manju remains the backbone of the movie and overwhelmingly so, she does not drown any of the other characters to oblivion or submission. All her co-actors stand tall and get the space that the script demands or allows. Kunchacko Boban has done well, depicting a chauvinist husband on screen, with a slight negative touch. Amritha Anil who acted as their daughter proves that she is a tremendously talented and gifted young actor. Sethulekshmi has done another brilliant portrayal in this movie as Madhaviamma. She, with her unsophisticated and innocuous demeanor and dialogue delivery, lights up every scene that we get to see her. Kalaranjini portrays the role of Rajeev's mother with an uncanny knack and finesse. Kunchan gives a convincing performance as Rajeev's father.Vanitha as Nirupama's mother, Muthumani as Nirupama's best friend and colleague, Kaniha as her dear old college friend, Vinay Fort as her colleague, Thesni Khan as her colleague, Lalu Alex as the Police IG, Devan as the businessman Seetharam Iyer, Sudheer Karamana as the Police officer,Siddhartha Basu as Indian President - all have done remarkably well in the movie.
Director Roshan Andrews has once again proved that he is one of the better directors in Malayalam today and his touch is visible in every single frame. Duo-script writers, Bobby and Sanjay, as always, have managed the crafting of a good script. Gopi Sundar's background musical score is one of the best that he has delivered in recent times. It blends well with the overall tone and ambience of the movie. The songs have also come out well. R.Divakar's cinematography is also first-rate.So is the editing by Mahesh Narayanan and he has ensured a smooth flow of the frames.
Listin Stephen- Roshan Andrews-Bobby-Sanjay team will be thankfully remembered for making Manju Warrier's come back movie a sweet and pleasant experience, certain flaws in the script & story in patches notwithstanding.The moot point of the movie is a question that is raised by the turn of events in the movie “Who puts the expiry date on a woman’s dream" - a question that resonates in the minds of the audience and helps the movie to connect with the audience.