It is an important point that, many of the recent movies in Malayalam, all touted as different and special or what not, were all adapted from movies else where. Couple of decades back, this was un-thinkable in Malayalam as we had a great talent of writers who found ingenious topics for our movies. But right now, almost all movies are good enough for the waste box and the ones which look good, majority of them, are not original. Blessy came in with a lot of promises as a debutant director with Kaazcha, a brilliant movie. He gave some more glimpses of hope with Palunku and Thanmaatra, to some extents. However he did let us down largely. I am sure, many people will hail him and thank him for this movie, but it is just a shame that he has been inspired by Innocence, the 2000 movie from Paul Cox, without any mention at all.
Menon, 67 years, is living in his son's apartment in Kochi city. He meets Grace who has recently shifted to this building, with her husband, Mathews,and family. Menon and Grace had eloped and married in a short living marriage, 40 years ago.
The master stroke by Blessy is that he has made significant changes to the original and placed the theme to fit into Keralan sensibilities. I saw Innocence long back, sometime in 2003, so not able to recollect it very well. But one of the highlights of that movie was its intense portraiture of love, which can arise at old age which could find pleasure both for the mind and the body. However, catering to a highly hypocritic Keralan psyche, Blessy completely keeps away the physical aspects (and in ways even the mental aspects). And he even suggests that it could be a physical contact between two of the characters, which prompts the end of the movie. This is just my thought, I could be wrong. But this is highly possible and I am sure the Keralan hypocrisy will support him in that. But I cant help saying this, inspite of all his master strokes, the movie still holds elements of an alien culture, which an ordinary Keralite would find hard to understand.(Just like in the case of Bheja Fry, when it was adapted from Le Diner de Cons).
I would say, the movie is more about aging, than love. The original was definitely about love at old age. Here from the very beginning, till the end, it is all about the travails and fear of loneliness of three aged souls. Through them Blessy succeeds in making us feel for the state of our old. And friendship is what he instills between these three, instead of love in the original. Looking at it that way, I would say it is a beautiful movie about old age.
Blessy always seems to create a wrong aura around his movie for marketing. For Bhramaram, he promoted it as a road movie, when it was not one in any ways. Here, he markets it as one on love, but it looks more like a movie of 3 persons, finding friendship at old age. I feel, a single man or woman, nearing 60, watching this movie, would worry about the lack of a friend for their future.
I was very unhappy with how Blessy dealt with the flash back scenes, the old times of Menon and Grace, some time in the 70's. The settings, actors and almost everything about these scenes, looked quite mediocre (In one of those shots from Maharajas college ground, the LIC building can be clearly seen, which was added in 90's I think). So was his casting. Mohanlal is brilliant as Mathews. In fact I am very glad to see Mohanlal doing such a role, after a long time. Jayaprada plays Grace and Anupam Kher plays Menon. Jayaprada was not a great actor, even at her prime and even now she is only just ok. Wish if this role was given to Shobana or Revathy or Sumalatha. Any of them would have taken it to a different level. Anupam Kher too, looks good. But his inability to understand Malayalam language is quite evident. Blessy could have found somebody from the South for this role, I hope. So as always for Malayalam, casting is still a problem. Blessy looks like walking on the line of going over board in some important emotional scenes. A little bit of subtlety would have done quite a lot of service to this movie.
Cinematography was excellent. It has been some time since a Malayalam cinema had a camera work, which is quite silent. Just fine for the movie.
Well, it is still a very good movie, considering the present stature of Malayalam movie, like the first rain in March/April. Promoting it as a movie on old age would have been better though.