Vishwanathan is an ordinary Government servant. His wife Suma, together with her mother in law, runs a small village restuarant and is fighting to meet the both ends and to save something for the good future of their two children. Vishwanathan is a straight forward man, however he is almost addicted to alcohol, which is a constant worry for his family. He keeps on promising to stop his habbit, but is always back home completely drunk, also because of his friends. Once he even forgets his boy in the bar. He is still a very religious man with deep faith in their family goddess. Prompted by a comment from the sister in law, Suma pretends as if she is possessed by the goddess and makes some furious comments on Vishwanathan's habbit. This works wonders for the family. At the same time rumours spread on the special powers of Suma. The restaurant is actually co owned by an Uncle who is back home. When there are some problems, related to Vishwans work, the Uncle asks Suma to pretend as the Goddess once again, to get rid of the strong political forces against them. The Uncle actually forces her to do more, as this is a good way to make some money. Soon, Hindu fanatical forces join the uncle and Suma is forced to be a Goddess Sumangala with an Ashram built for her. She is kept away from her family and her attempts to elope and even commit suicide, all backfires and make her even more famous as a God woman.
Priyanandan is a director who had always taken a parallel path to movies, neither being too artistic nor being mainstream and his first two movies, especially Neythukaaran, were exceptional. The last one, Sufi Paranja Katha however was excellent only in patches. In all these movies his selection of plot, I thought was brilliant. He again proves that he has a special eye for selecting his plot and in Bhakthajanangalude Shraddakku (B S), he has touched upon an important topic which is socially very relevant with many under and parallel tones. It has been long since I watched a Malayalam movie and had thought, this is one movie which can be put in the same class as the ones in the golden 80's. B S, friends is one such movie and I am more than proud of this movie and this director.
This is a kind of movie, that would have perfectly fallen in place between the parallel and mainstream movies of the 80's. After long, we get to see a straight forward and simple narration of a story without any modern gimmicks. May be it is old fashioned for some, but some times old is gold isn't it. But in spite of the straight forwardness of the movie, I would say this movie has may be the best realistic camera work in Malayalam movies in a very long time. Especially the lighting used make each and every frame, may it be indoor or outdoor, look as if only available light is been used. There might be people who could argue for some different angles on some of the frames, but no one would question the lighting in this movie and it is consistent for the whole length of the movie.
Priyanandan, I am sure, might embarass most of the main stream directors of Malayalam. He has handled some scenes so nicely, may I say. The first time Suma gets possessed and the scene in the bus, when she tries to run away with her family, especially are worth mentioning. Still, there is a major draw back in the script, which I thought could have been avoided. The problems of Vishwanathan at his work develops well in the beginning and it even proceeds to a scene in which he nearly man handles the MLA, ends up in Police station and even his career looks in trouble. However, thereafter, this lead is left out completely. May be there was something and it got cut in the editing table. But I thought the movie would have been even better without this. Also the second possession also was not needed. The movie would have been more classic if the possession scene was restricted to just one. So are some of the loop holes in the script, once the Ashram is established. But I think those are pardonable. Especially since there is an anti climax in this movie, which is more than brilliant. That is a perfect mirror to the foolishly spiritual society of India.
There were a lot of articles, on the great performance of Kavya Madhavan in Gaddama, which surprised me actually. But in BS, as Suma Kavya might have done her ever best performance in her career. Bearing in mind that in India, its only once in a lifetime an actress get to play a strong female oriented role, Kavya might have just did it and she is brilliant especially in the first possession scene. Arshad, as Vishwanathan also did good, but I thought, he could have been much better and this definitely is a small mistake from the director.
Kerala, inspite of all its claims of being a left oriented land where even right wing people have leftist views, is becoming a highly religious and caste oriented society. God men and women emanates out of nothing and people, the rich and the educated especially, follow them like the mise after the pide piper. B S is a brave attempt and I wish this movie was a hit. Watching it on the third day of release, I was more than sad to see that the hall was almost empty. But each and everybody in the theatre enjoyed this movie like anything, inspite of not having commercial ingredients, was quite clear. If B S doesnt become a hit, Keralites should never complain that they do not get good movies, like before.
I salute Priyanandan and his team, especially the camera man, for this wonderful movie. I am sorry, if this movie will not make profit. It will be also a pity for Kavya Madhavan. She has been brilliant and if this is not seen by most Keralites that is really a pity.
Even the Tamil boy, at the snack bar in Kochi Sarita theatre, looked sad that BS is not popular. In his Tamil accent, he told me - Keralaavil nalla cinema kaanaan aarum illa alle chetta