'Tis the year for romantic movies... Premam is still making itself felt in good ways and bad. Malar/ Sai Pallavi has lost her freshness after being over-exposed on the media. Malayali campuses (both school and college) have had a surfeit of black shirts and white mundus. And when a jeepful of Premam-uniformed people struck down a student and killed her, at least some people blamed the movie for lionizing the bad student who boozes and swaggers away his formative years. Coming from a culture that exhorts its students to follow the crow, the crane and the dog in the matters of deep study, concentration and sleep respectively as well as to be moderate in food and stay away from the comforts of the home, this reaction was not surprising.
Anyway, all has given way to Moitheen and Kanchanamaala. Although all love is beautiful, Ennu Ninte Moitheen has to be the antithesis of Premam. By now all Malayalis must be familiar with the real story that happened in Mukkom, a tiny, river-bound village in Kozhikode and the still-living heroine of the tragic story, Kanchanamaala. I certainly wish that I had seen the original documentary Jalam Kondu Murivettaval (click on name to view the movie) before watching the mainstream version.
Why do I think so? Because after watching the movie version, in which a lot of the actual story has been edited out, the real beauty and tragedy do not come through... Either a movie is riveting or it is not. May be it is a subjective experience, may be I had not been in the right frame of mind to really absorb it. But all through the movie my mind was going, "Wow! great cinematography" "Did the actors catch colds after being drenched almost all through the movie?" "Was it never summer in Mukkom?" "Great song, ordinary picturisation" "Uh oh, not again, Prithvi forgot his colored contact lenses in this scene too..." Only, only at the end, when Kanchana (Parvathy's best role - she is above all reproach) stands on the threshold of Moitheen's home, preparing to live as his unwed widow did I feel any emotional response to the movie.
So I feel, that if you want to really get the flavor of the movie that all the cast and crew fell in love with and worked so hard for, do watch Jalam Kondu Murivettaval before going to watch Ennu Ninte Moitheen. Only then can you find the real heart of the movie and feel the strength of a love that bore 25 years of separation, twenty-five years of house arrest and being treated worse than a mangy dog (Kanchana's own words in a television interview) and the ruining of two bright lives come through. I strongly feel that the movie should not have ended where it did, but should have continued to the present age - only by knowing and showing that Kanchana keeps that flame of love alight even to this day can people appreciate the strength of their love and sacrifice. A moviegoer who is ignorant of the real story might scoff: "Hah, another variation of Romeo and Juliet - only this time Romeo died aged 44 and Juliet didn't do away with herself." Yes, Mukkom Bhasi does mention the rest of the story at the end, but it was not enough...
Revelation: Tovino. This actor gets noticed in spurned lover's roles, but he is a treat to watch. Hope he gets better roles as he goes along. Karamana Sudheer really stole the show in drag! Sai and Lena are wonderful as Moitheen's parents.I love what Prithvi has done in the movie, but I really wish Nivin had had the title role. If you watch the documentary, you can see for yourself that he bears an uncanny resemblance to B.P. Moitheen - ah well!
Another thing that I loved about the movie was how flawlessly it took us back into Kerala of the 1960s - the jewelry designs, the costumes, the way everyone unscrewed the top off an ink pen when they had anything to write (which I still enjoy doing), the funny-shaped bus... Ok, I was not around at that time, but I can imagine can't I?
Songs: Love, love, love the songs. DH has banned any rendition of "Kannondu chollanu" at Karthi till further notice because he is sick and tired of all his family members warbling the same all the time at home. "Ente qithabile penne" seems set to be the second "Malare..." Bet it is going to be all the rage in campus autograph books this year.
Verdict: Do go and watch a wonderfully made movie, but bear in mind that the real thing is much more magnificent and mind-blowing than its celluloid copy...