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Vadakkumnathan Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Monday, May 22, 2006 • Malayalam ]
Vadakkumnathan Review
Mohanlal, Padmapriya, BijuMenon, Balachandra Menon, Kavya Madhavan, Murali
Shajoon Karyal
Baba Movies

Anyone who has had something, or even anything, to do with Malayalam films, has cribbed about realism and empathy have gone out of modern-day movies. Every film is seen as an offering at the altar mass commercialism.

But occasionally, there come movies which seek to disabuse us of our bitterness. Recently we had Thanmathra that sought to get into the heart of a man coming to grips with Alzheimer's.

And the much-delayed Vadakkumnathan seems a worthy successor to Thamathra. If it was Alzheimer's in Blessy's sensitively crafted movie, then Vadakkumnathan deals with innder demons and depressions of a highly-skilled Sanskrit scholar. Backed by some liliting music, Vadakkumnathan at once tugs at your heart strings as well as soothes your jangled nerves. The pace maybe slow, but it is pregnant with poignant pauses. Full marks to director Shajoon Kariyal for making a film with conviction and clarity. There is no effort to shortchange the audience with ersatz entertainer.

The story is simple and realistic and that is the secret of its alluring appeal. It deals with gremlins (in the mind) of Bharath Pisharaody, a skilled Sanskrit professor (in that, it has shades of the Hollywood classic Beautiful Mind). The amiable man vanishes on the day of his marriage to his cousin and love Meera (Padmapriya). Nobody knows why. The family thinks he is gone for ever.

In fact, the film itself opens with Bharath's mother and brother (Kaviyoor Ponnamma and Biju Menon) getting to Haridwar to perform some religious rites for Bharath, who is given up as dead. The mother luckily spots Bharath on the banks of the holy Ganges. But Bharath is not normal. The relatives think he is on a hallucination trip. But soon they come to know of his mental distress, a case of extreme depression. He has to be brought to normal. How Meera and others do that in the dignified denouement.

There is no larger-than life stunts, songs and dialogues. Everything carries a matter-of-fact attractiveness. Mohanlal as the troubled professor is singularly top rate. His face throws up myriad expressions. It is an amazing portrayal of mentally disturbed man. An award may just be on its way. Padmapriya is a thinking actress. She can be glamorous. She can also shine in performance-based roles. This one is. And she is a sheer delight to watch. Her mature understanding of the character and then its easy portrayal is one of the highlights of the movie. Spunk and substance form the core of this actress. Biju Menon, Kavya Madhavan, Murlai all play their characters with nuanced understanding.

The music of Ravindran is another major plus. The songs give the movie a gossammer lightness.  S Kumar's camera is also vital to the film's feel. He matches Ravindran's virtuosity.

Shajoon Karial has given a serious film with all the right touches. He has eschewed the urge to go commercial. You can crib on the length and speed of the movie. But that is insignificant considering intrinsic essence of the movie.

Vadakkumnathan deserves a watch by all those who love and value cinema, especially good cinema.

Rating: 0 / 5.0

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