Movie - Ithu Nammude Katha (Malayalam)
Director - Rajesh Kannankara
Producer - KC James
Cast - Asif Ali, Nishan, Abhishek, Vineeth Kumar, Ananya, Amala Paul, Lalu Alex, Jagathy Sreekumar, Devan, Kalaranjini Kottayam Naseer, Suraaj Venjarammoodu, Jagadeesh
Music - Mohan Sithara, Sundar C Babu
Cinematography - Vipin Mohan
Editing - V Saajan
Story - Samuthirakkani
Screenplay, Dialogues - Rajesh Kannankara
Release Date - 28th January 2011
Why would any filmmaker remake a film like Naadodikal which was a huge hit in Kerala into a Malayalam film when most Malayalis would've already seen the original?? This was the question which first came to my mind when I saw the trailer of this movie. Even though that question still remains unanswered, the movie surprised me by turning out to be a fine remake of the brilliant original. I wanted to watch Asif Ali's performance because I've been impressed by his performances in almost all his earlier films and went in for the film, and I must say, I enjoyed watching it. Of course, it doesnt match up to the standard set by the original movie, but still strikes a chord with you. When the Tamil version was more aggressive, the Malayalam remake chooses to stay subtle most of the time.
Vinod (Asif), Kochumon (Abhishek) and Santosh (Nishan) are 3 best friends who have their own set of joys and sorrows and ambitions. But things take a turn when Vinod's friend Mahesh (Vineeth Kumar) lands in town and asks for their help to get united with his lover (Amala Paul) opposing his mother who is an ex MP (Kalaranjini) and her father who is an influential industrialist (Devan). The trio feel that it is their duty to unite their friend with his lover and embark on the mission. But in the process of doing that, they are wounded for life, either physically, emotionally or socially. How the three of them live their life after the incident is what forms the rest of the story.
The movie is a formal remake of Naadodikal and the titles begin with the story credits to its director Samuthirakkani. And as in the case of any remake, the impact and comparsions with the original are hard to avoid. But in spite of that, Ithu Nammude Katha stands on solid ground with good performances and a universal theme of friendship which would work in any given milieu, if handled effectively. The director's work could have been better in certain sequences like the Sambo Siva Sambo song (which was the highlight of the original). The desperate situation of our main leads didnt come out as effectively as it did in the Tamil version. But otherwise, he has done a good job of adapting the movie from rural Tamil Nadu to the beautiful Kuttanad. The climax is done very effectively and leaves a solid impact. But every now and then, Suraaj Venjarammoodu is unnecessarily squeezed into the narrative for the sake of creating laughs (I dont understand if he is really cast by the directors or taken on demand by producers and distributors) when one of the main leads, Abhishek quite effectively handles the humour department staying within character. Suraaj's appearance at the end almost ruins the impact of the good climax, but one tends to forgive that because the movie was a good one.
Asif Ali is nothing short of deadly. This young man got to work with 3 of our best directors in his first 3 films - Shayamaprasad, Sathyan Anthikkad and Sibi Malayil and that experience has definitely reflected in his performance. After the brilliant act in a more mature role in Traffic, Asif scales new heights with his measured performance in this movie. He has performed this difficult role with confidence of a seasoned actor. His voice modulation was criticized initially, and he has taken special care to improve that into a serious man's voice successfully. This guy is slowly and steadily growing to be the young face of Malayalam Cinema. Nishan gives able support and does quite well compared to his confused act in Apoorvaragam, his previous movie with Asif and Abhishek. He manages to pass off decently in the comic scenes and his lip sync in Malayalam has also improved tremendously. Abhishek, one of the contestants of an acting reality show on television and also one of the few good things in Apoorvaragam, puts up a great act in the role played by the talented Bharani in the original. This guy has a great sense of humour and comic timing and that has been effectively utilized by the director. Ananya reprises her role in the original and she does very well even though she's not as bubbly and lovable as she was in the original. Vineeth Kumar & Amala Paul (heroine of Mynaa) play their parts effectively. Jagathy Sreekumar was not very effective in a good role because he was not used well, but the humour he brought worked well. Kottayam Naseer was very good. But Suraaj Venjarammoodu stuck out like and his cheap scenes looked out of place in this good movie. And worst of all, his character's name was Tintumon, an insult to the SMS legend. Lalu Alex was wonderful. Indrans got a very good role after a long time and he did that part proficiently. Devan, Kalaranjini and Jagadish did their parts well. The other girl who played Nishan's pair is absolutely no match to the wonderful Abhinaya who played the part in the original.
Music is mostly borrowed from the Tamil version as Sundar C Babu's 'Sambo Siva Sambo' and 'Ulagil Entha Kaadhal' are recreated in Malayalam with great results. Mohan Sithara's duet song passes muster. They did away with the festival song and the item song in the Malayalam version, which is a good thing. The background score by Bijibal is mostly different variants of the deadly 'Sambo Siva Sambo' track and it helps the narrative enormously. Veteran cameraman Vipin Mohan's work is just about okay in spite of having great locations to shoot in. The rest of the technical crew have given effective contributions to the film. Action during the Sambo Siva Sambo song could have been slightly better.
Summing up, Ithu Nammude Katha is a very good remake of Naadodikal which can be enjoyed by everyone who has watched the original too. And for those who havent, its almost a must watch as it tells a great story of friendship (thanks to Samuthirakkani's script). Rajesh Kannankara has been able to adapt the film well into a Malayali milieu and lets see what he has to offer in the future. Asif Ali is the best thing about this movie and it wouldnt be long before this young man becomes a star who can also act very well. It is sad that this movie is getting a very poor theatrical response. (Shows were being cancelled in the Kochi multiplexes and there were hardly any people in Shenoys and I think its majorly because Naadodikal was such a big hit in Kerala and people have already seen the movie. But the makers should have known that beforehand itself). Anyways, here's wishing this movie picks up through word of mouth and does well.
Rating - 3.5/5