Tuesday, February 28

Ee Adutha Kaalathu

Movie - Ee Adutha Kaalathu (Malayalam)
Editor, Director - Arun Kumar Aravind
Producer - Raju Malliath
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Murali Gopi
Cast - Indrajith, Anoop Menon, Murali Gopi, Nishan, Mythili, Tanushree Ghosh, Lena, Baiju, Manikandan, Indrans, Krishnaprabha AND Jagathy Sreekumar.
Cinematography - Shehnad Jalal
Music & Background Score - Gopi Sunder
Art Director - Jyothish
Release Date - 24th February 2012

Cocktail was a much-talked about movie in 2010. Even though it received a lot of flak of being an adaptation of Butterfly on a Wheel, it was a well-made film and Arun Kumar Aravind was noticed as a director. Murali Gopi couldnt do wonders with his first script Rasikan with Lal Jose even though it had sparks of intelligence here and there. And the both of them have come together to give their next flick - Ee Adutha Kaalathu. From the photoshoot to the trailers and song promos, this movie generated a lot of intrigue among the youth. Going with the recent trend of hyperlinked narratives, this film tells the story of a bunch of characters as different as chalk and cheese, in the city of Thiruvananthapuram. 

Vishnu (Indrajith) is a poverty stricken young man with an ill mother, a wife who's a housemaid and 2 daughters. He picks up random stuff from the city's biggest waste dump and converts them into interesting toys and sells them on the beach, and also plays cricket matches with kids to make a little money. Ajay Kurien (Murali Gopi) is a frustrated man who's extremely insecure and sadistic towards his wife Madhuri (Tanushree), a former B-movie actress in Bombay. The reasons for his frustration are slowly revealed in the movie in an interesting manner. Tom Cherian (Anoop Menon), who'd received special training in Scotland Yard is under scrutiny for not being able to solve a series of murders happening in the city and is the butt of all jokes among his colleagues. Rupa (Lena) is a feminist journalist who's covering this murder and whom Tom has a soft-spot for. Then there's Rustam (Nishan) who's trying to lure Madhuri into a special relationship with him, with other plans at the back of his mind. And finally, the yellow journalist Thee Ramachandran (Jagathy Sreekumar) who also serves as the narrator of the film. Then there's a serial killer, a gangster, a broker, a home nurse, a bedridden mother, an oversmart kid, a foolish Brahmin landlord and loads of other characters making the narrative rich. 

Murali Gopi has weaved together important current events and so many day to day activities superbly in his very well crafted screenplay. The issues addressed include the huge and messy waste-dumps in the city, old couples living alone without any security, influx of North Indian workers whom nobody has any idea about, the quotation groups in the city, the super-successful 'mallu aunty porn' industry, etc. and they actually act as plot-points propelling the story forward at key points. It's definitely a tough task, and Murali has done that in style. Each and every character has his/her own individuality and are not like the regular characters we see in Malayalam movies. They all look alive on screen, something that's missing in many other screenplays these days. A beauty-conscious Police Commissioner who's actually sleepy when called on to a murder spot in the middle of the night; a home-nurse who's always on the phone;  a frustrated husband who's trying by all means to prove that he's having a fantastic sex life to his wife whom he feels insecure about; a simpleton who decides to do a crime and then ends up helping his victim and so many more interesting characters with their own unique quirks and traits. Another interesting fact is that there is no hero-heroine (like it is usually in such scripts) and every character has shades of good and bad. And when we've really gotten sick of all the Fort Kochi movies with every nook and corner of Kochi being captured on camera for some movie or the other, it is quite refreshing to see a true-blue 'Thironthoram' movie shot authentically in the city. The characters and their spaces give us the feeling of the city it is, rather than being just a mere backdrop. And the dialogue and slang used is not the cheap one which was made famous by a certain guy from Venjarammoodu, but the actual accent which Thironthoram people have which is authentically reproduced in the movie. We've had a bunch of Thironthoram movies back in the 80s made by Priyadarshan, Venu Nagavalli, et al. This one would probably be the first modern Thironthoram movie. :) 

Arun Kumar Aravind has matured into a fantastic director in his second film. That can be seen in his super-effective handling of Murali Gopi's fantastic script. Throwing in visual references of Bible Quotes, book names, movie posters, television show sound-cues to even an Angry Birds game, were intelligent touches from Arun. And since he is also the editor of the movie, he knows when to spice up the narrative and when to keep it slow and give enough stay. The first half builds up slowly and steadily into a shocker of an interval point and then builds up to an intriguing second half where everything comes together like a Rubik's Cube at the end of it all. Adding to the Thironthoram flavour of the script, he shoots it in areas specific to Trivandrum like the Brahmin agrahara-theruvu's, RSS camps, construction sites for IT companies, silent colonies, etc. There are some other very smart touches in the movie like when Indrans tells Prithviraj's brother Indrajith on how to make some 'Indian Rupee'; a couple of smart digs at Mammootty & Mohanlal which are not offensive; a total insult of a certain budget car; casting a certain actress as the wife of the editor of a yellow magazine which actually refers to the magazine which had carried a news item about her and so on. Coming from the Priyadarshan school, he has an amazing frame sense and gives us some captivating frames during the initial montages and later at various instances in the movie. 

Coming to the performances, the masterstroke from the directorial team, was getting the cast right. Each character is cast perfectly and almost all of them pitch in splendid performances. Indrajith in a career best performance, leads the pack. He is so effectively natural, subtle and effortless in his performance. His subtle Trivandrum accent, body language and ability to pull off minute expressions shows us the incredible talent he has inside. Its a surprise that this guy is not considered a star yet! Mythili, who is paired opposite him, is a revelation. I hadnt found her to be a good actress so far, but in this one she is damn good, playing the strong wife to a soft-spoken Indrajith. She looks convincing as a mother of two, and by dubbing herself in her hoarse voice, she has made her character more authentic. Murali Gopi as the eccentric, frustrated husband (a regular role for his late, legendary father in many films) is fantastic. And yes, we are reminded of his legacy many a times when we watch him perform, bringing out all the complexities of his character in awkwardly hilarious situations. 

Tanushree Ghosh, as his wife is not a bad actress, but her bad lip-sync does affect her performance, especially in emotional scenes. She makes up for it with her last shot during the tail end of the movie, where even she gets her share of applause from the audience. Anoop Menon is hilarious as the beauty-conscious, Scotlandyard trained officer and is again very natural. The Mohanlal hangover creeps in here and there, but then again, even an actual Police Commissioner can have a Mohanlal hangover, so it aint a bad thing at all. He has established himself as a brand for good Malayalam cinema by being an important part of many such films. Lena in her most meaty role (after Traffic) is excellent and shows us that she has the capacity to do a wide range of roles. And again, opting for dubbing in her own voice, she brings authenticity to her Mumbai-based journalist character.

Nishan also performs very well, maybe for the first time after his debut Rithu where he showed some promise and casting him as a North Indian speaking in broken Malayalam in his own voice, was again a smart move and helps Nishan to behave naturally in his very interesting role. Baiju as the gangster was fantastic and it was great to see him on screen after a long time. Manikandan as the nosey Brahmin landlord was decent, but his Tamil didnt sound right. Krishna Prabha as the home nurse was perfect! Indrans was effective in a small role and so was the smart alec kid who played Murali Gopi's son (except for his poor English). And yes, finally Jagathy Sreekumar. What can we say more about this amazing man, that we havent said in all these decades. Watch him in a scene with Murali Gopi behind a glass door without dialogues and you'll know why he's THE best, always!! 

Shahnad Jalal, the State Award winning cinematographer painstakingly captures Thiruvananthapuram in a very raw and rugged manner, in a never-seen-before style. No gimmicks, no show-offs, but straight-forward and effective camerawork. Arun Kumar as an editor knows how he wants his film to be like and he has kept the rythm of the narrative accordingly. The scene where Indrajith makes a box for his mother which is very well cut and there are some other very fine cuts in the movie too. Gopi Sunder has given a fantastic music score and its impossible to get the theme music of the film out of your head once you've seen the film, or even its trailer. The songs are also melodious and shot very well. Jyothish's art direction is authentic and very imaginative, especially how Indrajith's house is done up with innovative objects created out of trash. 

The film is a little too bold for Malayali audiences and might not be advisable for so-called family viewing (It is another fact that those so-called family movies have much worse stuff in them). Sexual insecurities, frustrations and incompetencies are discussed very well in the movie in one of the tracks bringing out many humorous situations as well. There are abusive words here and there but they're beeped out, but those beeps sound much more cooler than not having those words at all. Kudos to Murali Gopi for taking the boldness to the next step with his writing and to Arun Kumar for executing it so well. It shows the finger many-a-times to the Malayali double standards when it comes to morality. And thats something worth applauding. Let the naysayers keep on barking, but our cinema is getting bolder and better. :) 

And ultimately with a brilliant tail end tying up all the loose ends and the Rubik's cube getting solved, the movie comes to an end, not before we see another North Indian sales-rep talking in Hindi to Murali Gopi's character(Not a spoiler, but those who've seen the movie would get the significance) and also a great line from Jagathy Sreekumar about women and secrets. So yes, Ee Adutha Kaalathu is a must watch, if you havent realized that from this extremely long post already. Arun Kumar Aravind has turned into an ace director & Murali Gopi, into an ace writer-actor (Competition for Anoop Menon?) Go watch, the very next show!! 

Bottomline - Ee Adutha Kaalathu kanda ettavum nalla cinema!! പിന്നല്ല!! 


  1. totally agree..
    the other family hit of last year 'seniors' was full of crude,obscene sexual jokes but since t was marketed as a family entertainer no one complained...

    eak is definitely a must watch..totally loved t..
    a gud review too btw...

  2. The movie watching exp (EAK) was one which left a viewer bored,exhausted & disoriented. The story line has no sense what so ever ,mediocre performances - barring the actors whom we know can act well (like Indrajith,Jagathy & Baiju).
    This surely isn't a step in the right direction for malayalam movies & confirms the stereotype of a moviegoer - Someone who doesn't want to think,Someone who thinks entertainment just means watching mindless banter dished out over 2 & a half hours & Someone who thinks movies like Cocktail,Salt N Pepper & movies like these are classics

  3. i like the last scene....indrajith lying in a sofa like the anantha shayanam...a must watch movie..:)

  4. @Aravind Vn, oh yea.. i missed out on noticing the symbolism in that one!! Well pointed out!!

    @Szri, well, if u call this movie a stereotype and mindless banter, then I dont know how to react. Movies like this one, Salt n Pepper and even Cocktail are exactly in the right direction as we're getting a bouquet of movies in diverse genres where new narrative styles and/or smart writing/direction are being applied.. i cant argue more if u felt bored and exhausted watching it, but I found it to be one of the most exciting movies recently.. it is as quirky and well-made as a Delhi Belly or a Yeh Saali Zindagi, but comes without any high claims as well.. Sad that you didnt enjoy it.

  5. szri,
    dude,there s seriously something wrong with you..or shud i believe that you are one of those 'kanjaavu' types who seldom means what they say in a public forum?

  6. Hello VR Talkie - New Narrative,hmm - there is nothing new in narrative which any of the new age movie makers are dishing out - A film like Lorry made in the 80s makes for a compelling watch to any new generation Road movie , so let's not go that way
    & as for Smart writing - It's a surprise to hear that from an alumnus of India's most prestigious institute - I am sorry but i found all the movies i mentioned lacking a soul
    Delhi Belly was a waste of time,a 'why did u even bother filming this' kind of movie - So let's not go down that road

    Nikh-e - There is something wrong with me? Hmm hmm Ok; Kanjavu Type - Would need a little more clarity on what exactly is the definition of a Kanjavu Type

  7. @Szri, Movies are made in different genres and accordingly their so-called 'souls' would keep changing with each one.. And from the little knowledge I have gathered from the India's most prestigious institute, yes I do consider this smart writing, and you neednt be surprised at that. And if you're so stuck up on the past, then keep watching those movies again and again.. This is how we make films now, and if its not enjoyable to you, bad for you. And Delhi Belly wasnt a waste of time for people who enjoy well-written movies which are genre-specific, not for people who keep searching for 'soul' in every damn movie.

  8. Oh Man VR Talkie - U get offended by the drop of a hat eh? Take the 'chill pill' - They call it that,don't they?
    Different Genres - So Called Souls , hmm
    It isn't about being stuck up in the past - it is about appreciating Good work,If there is a good movie made by someone today ,i have no qualms about accepting it,appreciating it - telling the world to go watch it,so let's not confuse issues here (For eg a simple movie like a Plus Two made in malayalam last year would qualify as one or even an engaging movie like Firaaq)
    'This is how we make films' - Oh interesting,Now i know what to look forward to from the budding Writer-Director in the making (Good luck with that!)

    Well written movies - Genre Specific...Delhi belly..hmm...Now that in simple language can be called Bull Crap!

    Good Day!

  9. Plus Two? Okay. Lets stop the conversation here!!
    And ya, now u've got an idea on what to look forward when I make films.. And I've got an idea of the kind of films you like.. So I guess its better if u'd stay away from my movies when I make them, coz I dont see you enjoying them. At least I wouldnt have the good fortune of getting an adjective like 'bull crap' for my movie like Delhi Belly got from you.
    And you call this getting offended?

  10. "& this is how we make films now,if u don't like it - go jump' is a good line to start with for a budding Writer/Director :-) & i thought movies r made for the audience - My Mistake :) .. i think

  11. I shall keep that in mind if/when you make a movie :)

  12. & while you are at it,read this interesting blog titled What does expert opinion cost http://davetrott.campaignlive.co.uk/2012/02/07/what-does-expert-opinion-cost/#more-1142 :) Good Night!

  13. So you consider this expert opinion?? I never thought so!!

  14. Consider what expert opinion? The link? If it is Dave Trott - Yes,I consider him an expert & No if it was my comments on your amateur attempt at reviewing a movie

    PS - Posted the link because i was reading it while we were at this & found it worthwhile to share.

  15. But I dont see the point of it being posted here even if it was worthwhile while you read it or not. And thank you for bothering to spend so much time commenting on this amateur attempt. I'm enlightened!!

  16. You are welcome Mr Talkie ; Even amateur attempts deserve attention :) Good Day!

  17. "We are also unwilling to acknowledge a serious flaw in the Indian character — a willingness to celebrate success too soon, a willingness to settle for mediocrity when excellence should be the goal..." - with sincere apologies to Mr. R. Jagannathan.. Perhaps that is why most of us tend to place very average movies like Traffic in such high regard.. ..Traffic - wasn't that very over the top and melodramatic to say the least?

  18. I agree that this movie definitely is going in the direction we want Malayalam movies to go and makes a damn good effort at it. The story is innovative and rich; as are the performances for the most part. Someone stronger in the role of Madhuri would have made this movie much better-while she fit that Hindi B movie actress look, her acting calibre couldn't stand up to the demands of this Malayalam A grade movie role. And like you said, her dubbing was atrocious. Indrajith was flawless and was the best of the lot. Murali again delivers a gem of a performance after his brilliant rendition in Gaddamma. Jagathy, in the small role that he has, is in his element!

    However, I wish the director had a stronger rein over the outflow of emotions. The actors go from mouthing emotional dialogues very monotonously to screaming out what should be more sedate dialogues. So its not a flaw in the dialogues themselves but in the rendition of them on screen. Even in Cocktail, I found the conversion from the script to the screen lacking and this ultimately is something in the hands of the director. I wish there had been crisper editing too...I spent the first half of the movie thinking that there was not going to be an interval and that we would be getting to the end directly. The second part was much more engaging that way and I just loved the way everything sorted itself out one by one, rather than what Malayalam movies are more wont to do...make a big khichdi of the end!

    The BG score was excellent and really kept one's interest alive and energized. Some great lines peppered throughout the movie last with you even after the end. A great story, good screenplay, superb dialogues...just a little lacking on the direction and on the editing table. But that will also sort itself out...just like the Rubiks cube...:)

  19. VR, I watch movies after I read your reviews! Where are you?? And by the way, I loved EAK too :)

  20. May be I am too late to add my comment about this movie. Frankly I didnt enjoy the movie at all. Lena and Tanushree Ghosh's dialogue delivery was horrible. Most of their english dialogues seems forced...and the story had too many convenient coincidences. through out the movie if any crisis came up, in the very next scene it was solved.
    - Biju coming to check out Tanushree's home, the quotation team descends on him
    - Tanushree and Rustam are about to get cozy, Indrajith reaches the place
    - Police finds a body in the dump, immediately they declare it as another victim of the serial killer
    - Lena is about to reveal Tanushree's secret to Anoop Menon, she is informed the case is solved
    - Murali Gopi finds the chit beside the toilet mirror, he doesnt have his glasses

    these some of the coincidences i can think of quickly. there are many more. the movie is not in the right direction for malayalam movie. found the twist and turn in the storytelling as just a gimmick