I seldom write reviews about movies that have already come out on DVD, but I had to write about this one. We got the DVD of Neelaakaasam, Pachakkadal, Chuvanna Bhoomi last week, but didn't get a chance to watch it. Mid-week, I put it on for my mother-in-law who was here. She barely sat through it and said finally that she didn't like it. So I for one was not looking forward to it. DH voiced his wonder why his Mom thought so when it had garnered a few good reviews when it was in theaters.
We put our reluctance and wondering aside yesterday and put the movie to the test. I was engrossed in cooking dinner, then serving it and finally settling down to decorating our Xmas tree (finally!) while the movie was going on. I had one eye and one ear on the movie, but was drawn in inexorably towards the middle and then I couldn't take my eyes off the screen...
Sameer Thahir's third directorial venture is definitely a must-watch. Kasim (Dulquer Salman) and Suni (Sunny Wayne) set off on a couple of bullets to nowhere in particular - at least that is what Kasim professes. But along the way he inadvertently has such varied adventures that change the tone and direction of his trip. Each part of his adventure invokes specific parts of his backstory that finally puts us the viewers on the same page as he is for the climax.
I can't praise the cast enough for their contribution to the movie - I don't know the names of most of them, especially the female half. Joy Thomas, Vanitha, Baby Anika besides Dulquer and Sunny were the ones that I could recognize. Of course I Googled the rest of the cast and saw that Bala Hijam is a Manipuri actress and she does very well as Assi.
There are teeny tiny moments in the movie that show the sure touch of a good director - moments like the sudden swaying of a Nano car driven by Fatima, the innocently wide-eyed question "Cool drinks unda?" by Wafa and the question of a not-so-goodlooking woman who speculates that the babies of Dulquer are likely to look like his beautiful, but unmistakeably Northeast Indian sweetheart as though that would be a very undesirable thing!! Those and a lot of others are what I would go back to watch again (well, I've already watched those moments twice thanks to DH and his forefinger that presses the rewind button at the slightest provocation!)
Neelaakaasam... is a perfect road movie and the episodic adventures are well strung out - wry, comic or tragic - some simply scary. It is one of the best kinds of road movie there is. I had already been dreaming about biking around in India after reading this blog, Neelaakasam... just intensified it about a thousand times - how could I help it with those visuals of wide roads, beautiful mountain vistas and the wind that seemingly gusts out from the screen to tease our own hair...
So what are you waiting for? Go out and get the DVD and perhaps you would also like to pick up 5 Sundarikal while you're at it... Among the five short movies of 5 Sundarikal, give "Gauri" a miss and you can't go wrong - all the others are perfect. After watching Sethulakshmi in it you can rest easy that Malayalis won't have to hunt for talent outside Kerala once Baby Anika grows up. She is simply superb!
Now my only regret is that we didn't get a chance to watch Neelaakaasam on the big screen... :( Now I consider having had to watch Geetaanjali as just punishment for having missed watching a movie like this onscreen :)