Movie - Elsamma Enna Aankutty (Malayalam)
Director - Lal Jose
Producer - M Ranjith
Cast - Kunchacko Boban, Indrajith, Ann Augustine, Nedumudi Venu, Jagathy Sreekumar, Vijayaraghavan, KPAC Lalitha, Suraaj Venjaarammoodu, Manikkuttan.
Music & Background Score - Rajamani
Cinematography - Vijay Ulaganath
Editing - Ranjan Abraham
Art - Gokuldas
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Sindhuraj
Release Date - 10th September 2010
A Lal Jose movie always comes with a lot of expectations since he's one of the few sensible filmmakers remaining in Malayalam now. And this time around, he has opted to the story of a village belle and some other interesting characters in a village called Balan Pilla City. Lal Jose has teamed up with screenwriter Sindhuraj with whom he gave the mediocre Mulla 2 years back. But this time, they have come up with a much better movie which is immensely likable for its old world charm and simplicity.
Elsamma (Ann Augustine), a petite girl of around 19-20 years is the most popular figure in Balan Pilla City, a town named after the owner of the only tea shop there, Balan Pilla. She works as an agent of a popular newspaper and also distributes newspapers to every house in the locality each morning. And her character is such that she is referred to as an 'aankutty' by the entire village. Her family of 3 sisters and mother (KPAC Lalitha) live under the care of their father's friend Paappan (Nedumudi Venu) who is like a father figure for her. Palunni (Kunchacko Boban) is a milk vendor and a close friend of Elsamma who secretly loves her, but does not have it in him to propose to her. Elsamma is at constant loggerheads with Member Ramanan (Jagathy Sreekumar), a corrupt Panchayat Member and Karippalli Sugunan (Vijayaraghavan), the notorious abkari in town. In between all this, Paappan's grandson Ebimon (Indrajith) lands in town for an extended stay at Paappan's house and starts flirting with Elsamma. Sugunan joins hands with Ebimon and hatches a plan as well. The events that follow make up the story of the film.
Elsamma's characterization is strikingly similar to that of Manju Warrier's character in Lohithadas' Kanmadam. But the similarity does not come across in your face very often because this movie is a very light-hearted one, compared to the heavy-duty Kanmadam. There are lot of scenes and events created to glorify Elsamma, just like any hero would be glorified. But apart from such small glitches, it is a very good movie with some very well written scenes and characters. Each character in the movie has a distinct role to play and it is very rare to find such good characterizations in Malayalam films these days. Kudos to Sindhuraj and Lal Jose for that. Elsamma is perhaps Sindhuraj's career best work so far. The first half of the movie takes its own sweet time to introduce each one of the characters and their relationship with Elsamma. The second half is more of Sugunan's plans to get Elsamma out of his way and Palunni's unrequited love. All these events are told laced in a lot of humour so that the audience is not bored at all.
Ann Augustine, even though too young for such a bold role, makes a good debut. Even though her performance isnt mind-boggling, she still manages to impress in her first outing as an actress. Her lip movements were not in sync with the dubbed voice (Dont know who's at blame for that - Ann or the dubbing artiste). Kunchacko Boban is the surprise package in the movie. The once-upon a time chocolate boy has evolved into a fine actor and it is very evident through his performance as the lovable Palunni in this movie. He shines in both comic and emotional scenes. His body language,expressions, dialogue delivery and everything else about his performance were exceptional. This movie would certainly open more doors to him to be cast in more such mature characters and not just mushy romantic hero roles. Indrajith is a riot as the flirt Ebimon. After slightly overdoing it in Happy Husbands earlier this year, he is back in his Pious (of Classmates) mode yet again under the sharp direction of Lal Jose. He is extremely natural and has great comic timing which makes his performance stand out. It is a delight to watch him in this movie. Vijayaraghavan - 'Jorayirunnu' (to quote his own words from the movie :P). The very underrated and under-utilized actor gives a fabulous performance as the comic-villain. Jagathy Sreekumar is top-notch as the shrewd politician. Suraaj Venjarammood for once didnt crack cringe-inducing jokes and was quite okay most of the time. Nedumudi Venu and KPAC Lalitha, are as usual, brilliant. The 3 sisters did their parts well. Janardhanan was good and Manikkuttan was decent.
There are some scenes which deserve special mention for the way they've been written and performed. Indrajith's introduction scene, the scenes in Elsamma's house and most particularly, the scene where an emotionally charged Kunchacko Boban talks to Nedumudi Venu in the second half. The dialogues and Chackochan's performance in that particular scene are nothing short of brilliant.
Vijay Ulaganath has captured the beautiful visuals of the lush green locales of Thodupuzha and surroundings with a monsoon feel. Lal Jose is very particular about getting great visuals and frames in all his movies and he ends up extracting some great work from his cinematographers in each film of his. It is no different in this movie as well. Vijay Ulaganath follows up his brilliant work from Neelathamara with an equally good work in this movie. Veteran background music composer Rajamani who has composed some killer theme tracks for movies like Commissioner, King, Narasimham, Ravanaprabhu, etc. returns as a music composer through this movie. All the tracks in the movie are enjoyable and suit the theme of the movie. The duet song is shot beautifully and the 'Kannadi Chirakulla' song is shot in an imaginative way with fun visuals, props and costumes. Gokuldas' art direction is brilliant, especially in the song sequences. He has been able to give the entire movie a completely real look where we cannot make out which is a set and which is an actual location.
On the whole, Elsamma is a simple, lovable family movie which stands out due to its simplicity, light-hearted humor, beautiful visuals, good songs and brilliant performances. If the few melodramatic and cliched scenes from the second half were done away with, the movie would have been much better. But still, Lal Jose has converted an okay script by Sindhuraj with some lovable characters into a movie which is difficult not to like. It leaves you with a smile when exiting the movie hall. Not many movies are able to do that these days.
Rating - 4/5