26 September 2015

Life of Josutty

Life of Jossutty Jeethu Joseph's new venture after the stupendous successes of Drishyam and its Tamil remake Papanasam carried very high expectations. This film starring Dileep is a coming of age story of a young man which is told with a sensitivity that we least expect from a Dileep film and humour is kept at a low boiling point which forces a smile or a chuckle from the viewer.

Josutty (Dileep) is a typical malayali hero who is naive and with a heart of gold and to top it his family is debt ridden with a younger sister yet to be married and another sisters dowry yet to be paid. As a child he wished to be a priest and serve the lord but he falls for the charms of Jessy his neighbour. And as luck would have it this relationship is doomed to be a failure as Jessy's father would not accept an uneducated and a pauper as his daughter's husband. So, he somehow makes Jessy understand the gravity of the situation and she gets married to the man of her father's choice. On the other hand Josutty readies himself to marry a divorced nurse who is working in New Zealand and promises to take his family out of financial trouble.

The rest of the story was expected to be a humorous take on how an uneducated house husband takes in the experiences of being in an alien land. But, the director gives us is a kind of shocking surprise. We not only see the ego battering condition of a house husband has to survive in a foreign land, but also the exploration of the layered man woman relationship without being judgmental. The story by Jayalal Menon’s story does try to hammer down the message that lots of conflict in life can be avoided if we think by being in the person’s shoes. That just feels as a slight glitch if you see the overall impact it delivers.

We even feel that there is an attempt to appease the Star’s fan clubs by inserting a line and there in his voice over narration that induces a few claps from them otherwise Dileep’s performance is subdued and realistic as it could be. In the beginning he does give a feeling that it is one of his typical kinds of films with actors like Noby and Saju Navodaya on his side. But, they depart once he is in New Zealand and here it is Chembil Asokan who takes their place along with Aqsa Bhatt (who is one of the three women in his life).

Rachana Narayanakutty as Jessy appears and disappears once in a while. Her appearance is to provide comic relief as she is pregnant every time she makes an entry. Jyothi Krishna as Rose who appears as Jossutty’s wife impresses depicting a complicated character.

Hareesh Perady as Jossutty’s father gives a moving performance as the character who is idolised by his son.

On the whole, with Life of Josutty director Jeethu Joseph carries on his good form that he showed in Drishyam giving Dileep one of the best character of his acting career.

As it appeared in Rediff.

24 September 2015

Njan Samvidhanam Cheyyum

The digital technology has made the process of film making so easy that anyone with a decent cell phone and internet connection can claim to be a filmmaker, so, eyebrows are not raised or people do not get shocked when they hear the phrase “I’m going to be a director” as they did in the past. But, veteran actor-director Balachandra Menon would like us to believe that things have not changed and breaking into this field is an arduous thing as it was when he was in his prime. Why else you will have a mother of a daughter on the threshold of her twenties doing a degree in visual communication freaks out when her daughter expresses a desire to be a film maker after completing her graduation.

But this is not story of the young girl trying to break into a male bastion called film direction, it is the story of her middle aged father who on a whim decides that he will direct a film after chucking a cushy job as a bureaucrat in a film corporation.

Basically, this film is just about Balachandra Menon’s observations about the happenings in the industry while he was away. He begins with leading ladies opting to marry and leave the industry at the peak of their career and coming back after a couple of years and seeking divorce. This topic discussed in the television news and chat shows, we see a bank manager named Gayathri making a few progressive points about leading a happy family life where she talks about an individuals freedom inside the marriage, trust , faith and such things. The next thing we see is she conducting a homam at home for her daughter who is adamant to become a film director.

Gayathri is the wife of Krishna Das (Balachandra Menon) who has stayed separately from his wife due to his transferable job. She shows a brave face in public but she is insecure from inside regarding her husband’s lifestyle. She calls him back to advise their daughter against going into films, but he eventually announces that he is going to direct a film. It takes just a little while to convince her and the film gets made in a jiffy . It is praised in the preview for its natural and realist treatment in the previews.

In the second half the attention shifts to the jury of the state awards comprising of Menaka, Renji Panikkar, Vineeth, Ravindran and others. Here we get to see the deliberations, fights, manipulations and such things going on inside the jury and how deserving and meritorious films get discarded for some undeserving and crass works. Here too Balachandra Menon takes the events that have happened in the state award juries in the last few years.

The treatment of this film is tacky to put it mildly it does not have anything. That feels of some substance or having an emotional core making us feel sorry for the director we knew as Balachandra Menon in the past.

As it appeared in Rediff.  

23 September 2015

Ennu Ninte Moideen

It is believed that tragic love stories have more power to stay in the memory than the successful ones where the lovers walk away into the sunset with their hand in hand. Débutante director R S Vimal seems to be aware of this fact so, he has made a love story inspired by real life yet have ingredients that will make any director rub his hands with glee. It is based in an era when let alone inter religious marriages even talking to your spouse in front of elders was considered a taboo. Now, imagine in such a scenario two rebellious youngsters from different religions not only fall in love but are even adamant to unite come what may.

Ennu Ninte Moideen tells the story of Moideen (Prithviraj) and Kanchanamala (Parvathy), who are family friends till the cupid’s arrow strikes. Moideen is a zealous youth wearing socialist ideals on his sleeves preaching that ‘India is not Indira and Indira is not India’ while his father (Sai Kumar) is a staunch Congressman with an unflinching loyalty towards the Nehru-Gandhi family, which gives the director a chance to have some comical interludes in the beginning.

On the other hand, Kanchanamala is shown to be leading a revolt against hostel management for the disparity in the quality of food given to the students according to their economic status.

As the story moves forwards the intensity of emotions and violence increases making us ask where will all this take us? But, the lovers keep the hope and humour alive in their communication (by whatever means they can).

We see that these two lovers have provided ample fodder for the film makers in the past or is the other way round where director Vimal got influenced by love stories made in the last couple of decades and incorporated them in his screenplay? We cannot be sure of that.

He has claimed that he did not take any cinematic liberties as this story of the lovers in itself was very interesting that it did not require any mending. But, some situations and dialogues mouthed by the stars make it hard to believe the director’s claim maybe that is why they say that fact is stranger than fiction.

Prithviraj does succeed giving Moideen’s character a ‘larger than life’ aura yet displays vulnerability of a lost lover in his private moments. It is difficult say if the character benefitted by the presence of Prithviraj or was it the actor who gained by portraying such a character.
Parvathy does not have to try very hard to make us believe that she the feisty Kanchanamala, be it for her resolve to face the odds in her chosen path or being the girl who is full of life in the beginning.
Jomon T John’s camerawork provides the gloomy ambience for the doomed love story capturing the cloudy sky when the action is outdoors or shooting indoors with pale lightings.

It all make Ennu Ninte Moideen worthwhile effort that we can savour.

As it appeared in Rediff.

03 September 2015


These days we see a lot of young blood being infused in malayalam cinema and it is trying to tweak the formula or to make a new grammar or narrative style that the audience will find novel or refreshing. The youngster Basil Joseph tries to do the same in his début feature film Kunjiramayanam . He has cast the two progenies of actor Sreenivasan namely Vineeth and his brother Dhyan Sreenivasan. It tells the story of fictitious village called Desam. The citizens of this village are dumb and do not take much time to believe in any kind of superstition.

Kunjiraman [Vineeth Sreenivasan] and Lalu [Dhyan Sreenivasan ] are first cousins. Lalu is the son of Well Done Vasu [Mammukoya] who has made his fortune by working in the Gulf. Kunjiraman is his sister’s son, whose marriage is fixed with Vasu’s daughter Thankamani. But a small issue between the boys takes the proportion of a family feud and the marriage is called off. Kunjiraman takes off to Dubai after that. Lalu, who is the apple of Vasu’s eyes is a dimwitted fellow who is finding it difficult to even pass the tenth standard exam even after appearing for it many times.

We see that Kunjiraman’s marriage is fixed with the character played by Srinda. And at the time of engagement the bride to be takes a promise from kunjiraman that he won’t touch alcohol from now on. So, before returning to the call of duty he symbolically breaks a bottle of the brand of alcohol he had started drinking with. But after he has left for the Gulf it comes to light that his favourite drink has become jinxed nobody can bring it into the village. Thus this superstition spreads like wild fire and anyone daring to get it into the village has to face dire consequences.

The unfolding of these events takes a lot of time served with dollops of humour with actors like Aju Varghese, Neeraj Madhav and Deepak Parambol with Dhyan being at the forefront with the sub plots like Lalu’s numerous attempts to succeed in the tenth standard exams and he being under the wings of cut piece Kuttan (Aju Varghese) for learning to stitch garments and essential things in life. And, etching out the characters of cut piece Kuttan and Vasu does take some time.

There are a few inside jokes and subtexts if we give it a thought like the mention of Oru Thundu Padam in Biju Menon’s narration in the beginning, which is the title of a short film that director Basil Joseph had made a few years back. Now, coming to the subtexts, the siblings Vineeth and Dhyan seems to be making a statement for their father Sreenivasan in Malayalam cinema, who was always cast as a sidekick of a good looking hero and became the butt of the joke. Here Vineeth who resembles his father is made smarter, confident and more successful while the good looking Dhyan with his gym toned biceps is made a dimwitted person.

These are the things that keep us interested in proceedings which tend to get repetitive once in a while in an effort to justice to a pantheon of characters. And, we can confidently say that this is the thing that makes Kunjiramayanam a time pass film.

As it appeared in Rediff.