I cannot remember when exactly I saw a real simple,but lovely, movie from India. In fact, there are hardly any movies in India in this genre. All our movies are full of some happenings or big turns, surprises, emotions, wonders and what not. In fact even simple plots would be manipulated to make it event ful, even by art house directors. When watching international movies, especially from Eastern and Northen Europe and some times from the middle east, I always wondered when Indians would be able to watch similar handling of this art from India. Finally, here it is, that too from a first time director.
An ageing couple's travails to fulfill their lifelong dream for a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Thats all this movie is about. A poor couple, who struggles to live by themselves, goes over board with their life long dream and tries their best to achieve it. But more than that without making it look quite evident it also takes our attention to couple of other matters: The struggle of poor old parents who have to live for themselves without any care from their beloveds, and the realisation that nature is the most important aspect of our life, understand nature, protect it and nurture it. Its also an ode to humanity that every body cares for the good, irrespective of their beliefs. The movie inspite of looking at the hardships of this poor couple, in fact is a kind of feel good film. It mostly have only good people as its characters. Every body in the village is kind and attentive to the old couple, most of their acquaintances are even ready to offer financial help, with the full understanding of the incapability of the couple to pay back, every body only wishes them good. I would strongly say its the best simple feel good movie in India in a really really long time.
The start of the movie, with a wonderful still image, was a bit slow, but soon it takes us into the life of Abu and his wife. Some of the scenes were brilliant and touching, like the police verification, Abu's meeting with his old neighbour, Sulaiman, the final realisation of the mistake they did to nature and so on. But never does it go over board in its emotions. Brilliant. And the climax is excellent and intelligent too. Cant think of any other climax with such a lovely message.
I am one to think that one of the most serious problems with Malayalam cinema is its casting. And that mould is broken, successfully, by a debutant director. One of the primary reasons behind the success of this movie is its cast and all kudos should go to the director, since we do not have the practise of a casting director. Salim Kumar and Zarina Wahab looks 200% perfect as the old couple. More than their facial expressions, its of course wonderful, what striked me was their body language. What an amazing and successful effort by both these actors. Salim Kumar grabbed this opportunity with both his hands, mind and soul and lived Abu on the screen.
AMA.. is beautifully shot by the veteran Madhu Ambat, who has kept his camera simple and conventional. He had lost some of his good name with his 90's Rajashilpi. I am not sure if AMA was shot on film, as there seems to be a lot of noise on the dark regions of some frames, digital possibly. At the same time some of the low light indoor shots and some shots of outdoors, around Abu's home also were wonderful. Excellent rendition of natural colours, unlike the lab saturated greens that we get to see in most films (especially Santhosh Sivan's). More than a few frames were reminiscent of beautiful still photographs.
Salim Ahmed deserves credit to make such a simple movie. Here is one movie from India, which could compete with similar movies from Europe and middle east. It is always the wrong movies, which we promote outside India. I really beleive, if Adaminte makan Abu and Aadukalam had managed some sorts of International release, it would have made all of us proud. Two different movies, but truly Indian and real pieces of artistic excellence.
However, the dialogues changed their dialect between North Keralan and cinematic at times, which could have been avoided. The full picturisation of one of the songs could also have been avoided. To be frank, I didnt understand the impact of the character Ustad, in the script. It connects to Abu at couple of scenes, but is almost running a parallel line. Even without Ustad, AMA, would have been the same, I think.
How much I wish, this movie is seen by the general public in the west and even some parts of India, where being Muslim is almost a sin.