One of the problems in recent Malayalam flicks has been its utter predictability. The 'image' problem and the easy tendency to go for the typical routines has been its bugbear.
But in Anandabhadram, director Santosh Sivan, making his first Malayalam movie (as director) has chosen to be different. Both his story and its handling do not belong to the regular stream. And that is the reason for the film's appeal.
You may have your reservations against witchcraft and black magic. But it very much part of the cultural landscape of Kerala. And Santosh Sivan uses it to brilliant effect bringing alive the essential phantasmagoria ingrained in such tales. Giving him good company is the art director Sunil, music director M G Radhakrishnan and the acting team of Prithviraj, Kalabhavan Mani and Manoj K Jeyan. Of course, Santosh Sivan own camera work is as good as anything seen on Indian screen ever.
The story (from Sunil Parameswaran) is straight forward. It is a fight between the forces of evil (to sound like George Bush) and the axis of good.
Ananthan (Prithviraj), from the US, comes to his ancestral home to light a lamp at their family temple. It was the wish of his mother (Revathy).
But there is Digambaran (Manoj K Jayan), the evil sorcerer who is out to get the nagamanickam to become a powerful force. Digambaran even blinds Chemban (Kalabhavan Mani) for having the guts to oppose him.
Digambaran even 'possesses' Chemban's sister Bhama (Riya Sen) and uses her for his evil deeds. Ananthan then gets down to put an end to the evil acts. He does so with his lover Bhadra (Kavya).
The movie ends on an eerie and chilling note. Who knows there may even be a sequel?
The film's success lies in the fact that the director is able to maintain the black (almost morbid) feel all through. Manoj's acting rises a notch or two and brings alive chillingly the evil force of a maniacal magician (of sorts). His make up also add to uncanny effect. Prithviraj and Kalabhavan Mani act out their roles with understanding and patience. Kavya and Riya Sen are also adequate.
The production values are certainly one of the best. The music and the background score are all extra attractions.
The film certainly belongs to the high-brow genre.