Movie - Rithu (Malayalam)
Director - Shyamaprasad
Producer - Vachan Shetty
Cast - Nishan, Rima Kallingal, Asif, MG Sasi, etc.
Cinematography - Shamdat
Music - Rahul Raj
Screenplay - Joshua Newtonn
Release Date - 14th August 2009
First of all, I would like to thank the director Shyamaprasad for coming up with a movie which is completely fresh and has a majority of newcomers. Its such a rare thing in Malayalam Cinema. And to be successful in that, is even more difficult. So, good work!! Mr. Shyamaprasad!!
This movie is basically about relationships. The different stages of the relationship between the three main characters, Sharat(Nishan), Varsha(Rima) and Sunny(Asif) are shown in the film. Sharat is the protagonist and the story is told from his view point. He is a dreamer, a sensitive character, who lives in memories. He wants to get back his good old days with his other 2 friends which he lost when he went off to the US, for a really boring job. Varsha, a character who can be seen lots of the girls of today (though its a little cliched). She's always in search of love, or the things that love can get her. And she has had relationships with almost everyone possible in her Bangalore life. In short, she is portrayed as a slut (in our usual language). But the reasons for her to be that way, is dealt with later (though it is just an excuse). Sunny, perhaps could have been the most interesting character of the three. He had a lot of shades to his character. But it was not developed properly, I should say. And the acting also couldnt do justice to the character.
The story is about Sharat, who comes back from US, to work in a new company in Tvm, along with his old friends Varsha and Sunny. He wants to re-live his old memories and bring all their old dreams to life, which obviously doesnt happen. How Sharat is affected by the behavior of his 2 friends and how their relationships twist and turn, form the later part of the story. A lot of other issues such as communism, poverty, globalisation, etc. are also dealt with subtly in the screenplay.
The movie is set in the IT hub of Thiruvananthapuram, the Technopark, called here as the internet city. The life there, the people there, the troubles there, the boldness of the people there, the work atmosphere, are all portrayed effectively. Unlike a movie which released last year, and directed by a well known director, which was supposedly about IT people, but was a sad caricature of their lives. The director also brings in some bold subjects, which usual people wouldnt dare doing. He has portrayed girls drinking, smoking, partying and all as a very normal thing, something which Malayalam Cinema has not yet done. In all our movies, the girls are very reserved and conservative and all that. But today's girls are not like that. So thats definitely a good point. And he brings in the aspect of Homosexuality also very maturely, and not in a cliched way (which even Bollywood still does). All this works big time.
So does the freshness in the treatment of the movie. Most of the movie is shot interiors. And the cinematography is brilliant. The light pattern of an IT office has been done to perfection. There are a lot of close-ups, hand-held shots, etc. in the interiors and very wide shots in the lake scenes, which work very well. The lake is a brilliant and beautiful location. Many scenes are shot there as it is shown as the hangout place of the three.
Sharat, played by newcomer Nishan is very likable. Though there are a lots of minor problems in dubbing and sometimes, in acting, he impresses very much. And you have to give it to him for getting so much of the lip-sync right in spite of being a Non-Malayali. And the best part is that, you do not hate him instantly, which happens each time when you see a pathetic newcomer making his debut in Malayalam. But the sad part is that, in spite of him being good, he's still not a Malayali. We are not getting good new Malayali actors. Ok. Let that be.
Varsha, played by Rima Kallingal (a former Miss Kerala runner up and who has 6 films on her hand now) is very nicely done. She doesnt look like a conventional heroine nor behaves like one. Very unusual characterisation in Malayalam cinema (though it may be cliched in reality, that Bangalore girls are like this - not necessarily). She doesnt believe in commitment and dates every guy who she can find. She was, at one time ready to be committed to Sharat, but her character and principles change once Sharat leaves her and she had to go to Bangalore (which is of course, her explanation for her change). Her accent keeps changing. But she has a great voice and is good in both Malayalam and English. Good that she has spoken herself without the help of dubbing artistes having heavy Malayali accents while speaking English. She's successful in creating the hatred towards her, because her role is such.
Sunny by Asif (a VJ in a wannabe youth channel), had so much potential but is let down by the acting. He wasnt good or bad. He was just plain ok. Some scenes, he's good. Some scenes, he's really bad. But still, he's good compared to other newcomers we keep getting.
The rest of the cast has Sharat's family, and colleagues in office. His father, a writer, was very nicely played. The relationship between the father and son and the misunderstanding is brought out well. Sharat's brother, a failed communist, played by director MG Sasi, was brilliant. He was at ease doing all the scenes and was the most natural among the cast. The old Chirakukal (Asianet) anchor Manu comes back after a long time playing an important character (forgot the name :) ) He's damn good too. The lady boss and her husband were also well etched out characters. Inexperience in acting showed in all their performances except for MG Sasi's. But still they are all good. Not one known face is there in the movie. The most seen of them all is Siddhartha Siva, a relatively new actor.
Shyamaprasad has made a departure from his usual style of adapting literary works. And he has also chosen to work with complete newcomers instead of veterans. He has given more importance to the emotional mindsets of the characters by going in for a lot of close-ups. Though all this is good, the movie should have had a better pace. It drags a lot at times. And a movie made for today's youth shouldnt be like that. It should be very crisp and make the point in a very short time as the attention span of today's audience is very less. So i guess, that was a negative.
The best part of the movie, as I already mentioned was the cinematography. It was brilliant. Minute details like movement of the hands, gestures, close-up reactions, etc. are captured very well. Lot of hand held work as well. The lake side shots have a dreamy nostalgic feel, whereas the office interiors and corridors have the very real tungsten light look. Brilliant work. Music by Rahul Raj is also worth mentioning. 'Venal Kaattil' is a beautiful song. Its picturised very well as well, showing the flashback of those 3 characters and how they used to be and all that. Kukkukkoo is nice but is not performed well. Pularumo is again a beautiful track which is used in a particular situation. The background score is very minimal, but is used effectively at places which really need it. A lot of rock music is used as well in the score.
The negatives of the movie, as I feel is the length, and the connectivity. The writing is brilliant with great lines and complex characters. But the actors, though good, couldnt engage the audience in the lives and troubles of the characters. I didnt feel for them at any point, except for maybe Nishan and MG Sasi. That, the actors can only do with experience, or else, they have to be extremely talented. If that aspect had also worked, this movie would have been really a wonderful experience. All that aside, we can all be proud that such a movie has come our way when we are all getting only compromised masala movies from even the best actors and superstars that we have. And again, a very good step by Mammootty's PlayHouse pictures to take up the distribution of this movie as their first project. I saw the movie 2 times and both times, there was a reasonable audience in the theatre. I hope the movie is successful, because only then, we would have more such attempts in our cinema.
Rating - 3.8/5