Friday, 3 June 2016

Kammatti Paadam, the Paruthiveeran or Subramaniyapuram of Malayalam cinema

In the last 2 decades, Malayalam cinema has not seen another director more consistent than Rajeev Ravi. All his 3 movies has been beautiful, realistic and truthful to the craft of cinema. Inspite of a common thread (of local goons) in all of them, I have been able to appreciate each of them as wonderful cinematic experiences.  

In Kammatti paadam, Mr. Ravi is showing us the other face of 'development'. It is so relieving that amongst the Action hero Biju's and other regular fares, there is a movie which looks away from the norms of the main stream Malayali mentality. I thoroughly enjoyed Kammatti paadam and I would strongly recommend it as a must watch. Should this movie get promoted abroad, am sure, it will make Malayalam cinema proud.  I also think it would be remembered more fondly after a decade, and might be even celebrated.

A lot has been already written about this movie, but there are few things that I think are very important.  

- Any thinking Malayalee cinema fan would agree on one thing, our cinema are infested by characters from upper castes or those from the elite or aspiring to be elite class. The heroes are always Nairs or Menons or Brahmins or from an Orthodox Christian family. It is incredible that even the heroes associates too, are never from the lower castes. We should not forget that the upper castes are not the majority of the Keralan population and in spite of this, most stories are always around a Nair or other upper caste man or family. Hence, Kammattippadam is a very bold and brave attempt. Hero is still suggested to be a Nair, but all those around him, including the two brilliant characters played by Vinayakan (Ganga) and Manikandan Achari (Balan) are definitely from some lower echelons of the caste system. These 2 characters are as or even more important than the hero, and this was a terrific surprise for a Malayalam cinema. 
There are two (or more) instances when the cinema indicates that Krishnan's family looks down upon Ganga and other friends of Krishnan. Ganga is not permitted inside Krishnan's house, nor is the character played by Shaun Romi, which means Krishnan is from an upper caste family. 

I do not know why they still chose the hero from an upper caste family, when everybody around are not. May be the makers wanted to tell us that it was not only the lower castes who suffered, may be. 

Please do not accuse me of a casteist for the above comment. On the contrary. I have always wondered, why our cinema never look at the other side of the mainstream, who unfortunately is the majority. 

 - When all other movies portrays modernity and mainstream middle/upper class aspirations and notions (Action Hero Biju is an excellent example), it is exceptional for a main stream movie to say boldly that a lot of bad has happened, or keeps happening, under this 'development', the modern buzz word. 

- Casting of this movie has been brilliant. Manikandan Achari as Balettan was like an atom bomb. It was only Dulquer, who was a kind of star presence. And we should understand that without at least one actor like him, may be, nobody would have produced this movie. Kerala is not Tamil Nadu where people would still go and watch a movie, if its good, even if all the actors are dark skinned. 

- The action scene in the jail could have been avoided, though. 

- Once again, may I repeat that the performances by Manikandan, Vinayakan and Dulquer were really good, the former two especially.

Am so glad that Malayalam cinema has got Kammatti paadam. My sincere salutes to Rajeev Ravi and P Balachandran, and all others who are behind this exceptional cinema. 

In many ways, for its rawness, honesty and cinematic brilliance Kammatti paadam is the Paruthiveeran or Subramaniyapuram of Malayalam.