Friday, December 25

Ividam Swargamanu

Movie - Ividam Swargamanu(Malayalam)
Director - Rosshan Andrrews
Producer - Antony Perumbavoor
Cast - Mohanlal, Thilakan, Sreenivasan, Shankar, Lakshmi Rai, Lalu Alex, Jagathy Sreekumar, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Sukumari, Lakshmi Gopalaswami, Priyanka Nair, Innocent and others.
Background Score - Gopi Sundar
Cinematography - R Diwakar
Editor - Ranjan Abraham
Art Director - Cyril Kuruvilla
Story, Screenplay, Dialogue - James Albert
Release Date - 25th December 2009

2009's Christmas has two superstar movies coming together after a long time. This one featuring Mohanlal and 'Chattambinadu' featuring Mammootty. The latter is a formula movie made for the masses in the regular format and this one promised to take us back to the good old times of Malayalam Cinema where our heroes were ordinary people, not superheroes or Chattambis. Rosshan Andrrews is one director everyone looks up to, in spite of having done only 2 films so far. But those 2 films are the reason behind this expectation out of him as one of the best new generation directors in Malayalam Cinema. The movie had a dream combination of Mohanlal and Thilakan, coming together after a long long time, setting aside all their long-term ego-clashes, to give us a great film. To add to that, there is a huge cast including Sreenivasan, Jagathy Sreekumar, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Innocent, etc, all of whom have shared excellent chemistry with Mohanlal on screen. There were humungous expectations from the movie, and the end-result might have different impacts on different people. Lets get to the detailed review.

Mathews (Mohanlal) is a farmer who loves his crops and cattle as much as he loves his family. He lives a simple, happy and peaceful life with his father Jeremias (Thilakan), mother (Kaviyoor Ponnamma) and aunt (Sukumari). But the problem begins when a real estate mafia kingpin, Aluva Chandy (Lalu Alex) sets eyes on Mathew's farmlands. He wants to get that land at any cost and takes several steps towards that, whereas Mathews and Jeremias are very strong in their stand on not selling the farm, which is their life. But with more and more legal hassles coming their way, thanks to Chandy's political influence, they go through a rough time. Sunitha (Lakshmi Rai), an advocate and Betsy (Priyanka) are on the side of Mathews knowing that he has taken the right stand. But a goverment officer Maria (Lakshmi Goplaswami) doesnt really believe Mathews and his problems, because her marriage proposal had been rejected once by Mathews. The second half is all about the steps taken by a desparate Mathews to save his land from going into the wrong hands. And when the character of Sreenivasan joins the proceedings, things become much more interesting.

Watching Mohanlal in this movie is a delight. Nammude pazhaya Lalettan engum poyittilla ennullathinu thelivaanu, ee padam. ;) He reminds us of the golden period of Malayalam Cinema where he came as the common man and not a superhero. He brings back those lovely expressions, great, gentle smiles and wondrful body language through his character Mathews, who is nothing more than an innocent, ordinary farmer. The old Lalettan is certainly the USP of this movie. Watch out for his subtle acting in the scene where he gets emotional about his father and his helplessness to Lakshmi Rai, nobody other than him can do that perfectly. Like in the director's earlier film with Mohanlal, Udayanaanu  Thaaram, he underplays his part brilliantly and lets the negative character Lalu Alex hog the limelight, just like Sreenivasan did in UT. Thilakan has a short but strong presence in the movie as the righteous father Jeremias. It was simply great to see the best on-screen father and son in Malayalam back together after a long time. But Thilakan is hardly seen in the second half of the film. Sreenivasan, in a crucial role is very effective. But if the movie belongs to somebody else after Mohanlal, it is Lalu Alex. He gives his career-best performance as the manipulative, but slightly dimwitted villain Aluva Chandy. His character is perfectly etched out and reaches its peak towards the climax portions. Jagathy Sreekumar is exceptional in a short role. Shankar is good as Mathews' support system. Among the ladies, Priyanka is the best, followed by Lakshmi Goplaswami and then a mediocre performance from Lakshmi Rai, even though Lakshmi Rai has a great screen presence. Kaviyoor Ponnamma and Sukumari do not have much to do. Maniyan Pillai Raju shines in the climax. Innocent hams it up a bit.

05look3Rosshan has managed to capture the innocence and nativity of the village and villagers of Kodanad very effectively. The whole setting of the movie takes us back to the good-old 80s and 90s. But the difference in film-making that he brought out through his 2 films - Udayanaanu Thaaram andNotebook, is missing in this one. As he could have done much more with this script. Also, the first half is quite slow, taking its own sweet time to establish things. In spite of that, he is able to hold the attention of the audience for 2 hours 45 minutes even without resorting to songs and other commerical elements. The guts he has shown by making a songless Mohanlal movie for a producer like Antony Perumbavoor, should definitely be appreciated. James Albert's script is well-written, but could have been more concise, getting to the point a little earlier. But the climax was certainly a master stroke from both these people. It is super-hilarious and absolutely effective. The story reminds one of the National Award winning 'Khosla Ka Ghosla' at times, but then takes a different route and reaches a completely innovative climax. A certain word used in the climax is sure to be a rage in the coming days. ;)

The movie is not devoid of negatives. First of all, the length could have been much shorter. The absence of songs didnt really matter, and if songs were there, it would have further affected the impact of the movie. The fight in the second half and the heroine angle in the end looked really forced in the movie, which was all about innocent people. (I guess they were included due to the insistence of the producer since I'm quite sure that Rosshan isnt the kind of person who would add such scenes just to play safe.) The much-hyped coming together of Mohanlal and Thilakan wasnt utilized fully and kept one wanting for more scenes featuring the two veterans. But compared to the positives, these negatives do not really matter.

Cinematography by Diwakar is really refreshing. He has captured the beautiful locales wonderfully. Background Score by Gopi Sundar is very minimal and could have been more effective. One expects more from him after some electrifying work in Sagar Alias Jacky. Ranjan Abraham could have trimmed a movie a little more. Art director Cyril Kuruvilla created the entire farmhouse at different locations and even cultivated an entire farm just for the movie, much in advance before the movie's shoot commenced. Amazing work!! 

The movie has a strong message and really good intentions. It has all the rights to be among the best of 2009 and fall into the category of 'Nalla Cinema', which is slowly becoming extinct in our industry. Families should love this movie and I hope the youth also would lap up this movie as the regular masss-masala movies have become inane and repetitive these days. Movies like these bring some fresh air and lots of hope to our industry. Mohanlal and Rosshan Andrrews are immediately starting with their big-budget extravaganzaCasanova, after completing this small, simple feel-good film. A huge thanks to James and Rosshan for brining back the 'common man' and his life back into our films and an even bigger thanks for showing us that the old Lalettan hasnt gone anywhere. It deserves a hig rating just for the sincerity and truthfulness put into it. :) :)

After watching this movie, one feels, 'Ividam theerchayayum swargamanu'. :) :)

Rating - 4/5

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