Apr 25, 2016

Movie Review: Jacobinte Swargarajyam

A movie like this comes very rarely. A movie that elicits spontaneous applause after putting the audience through the wringer to come out cleansed and uplifted... that is my idea of a wonderful movie. Jacobinte Swargarajyam, Vineeth Sreenivasan's latest directorial venture is certainly a keeper. But the best part of the movie is that it is based on a true story. How heartening is it to find that there are people who really went through the experience?

Story in a nutshell: Jacob Zachariah (Renji Panicker) is a self-made businessman in Dubai. He is the loving patriarch of his family of wife Shirley and four children. The eldest, Jerry (Nivin Pauly) is at a crossroads in his life and his father encourages him to test his wings before he decides whether to join the family business. Jacob is respected and loved by his associates and acquaintances. He believes that his family, although not perfect in every way is his greatest asset in the whole world. He has implicit faith in his business associates as well.

Disaster strikes in 2008 with the global recession. Jacob is swindled by a long-time business associate right after he has made a huge investment with cash gathered from a lot of investors. In a bid to claw out of the huge hole he has fallen into, he travels to Liberia. But one of his investors files a case against him that virtually confines him to that country for fear of the Interpol. His family is left to the mercy of the creditors...

This is all I can tell you now. The rest you have to see!

The first thing that intrigued me was a snippet of an interview of the cast and crew in which Nivin Pauly said that even though Vineeth Sreenivasan had cast himself as Jerry, Nivin liked the role so much that he pestered his friend till Vineeth gave in thinking that he would also be able to wrap up the shoot faster if he didn't have to direct and act. Nivin is so known for his astute selection of roles, so that in itself was an incentive to watch the movie.

Renji Panicker plays Jacob Zachariah to perfection - he is the Dad everyone would like to have. Loving, playful, genial, masterful and liberal at the same time. No wonder his kids idolize him so much. Lakshmi Ramakrishnan excels as the gutsy "Achayathi" who is unfazed by the vagaries of a businessman's life and provides the faith, strength and stability that her family needs to confront the crisis. Sreenath Bhasi as Ebin, the second son has got the best role of his career to date. In fact everyone, down to the security guard of Jacob's apartment is perfectly cast and have done their respective jobs exceedingly well.

The twists and turns of the plot are so finely synchronized that the audience remain on tenterhooks all the time. There are subtle digs at the Malayali diaspora who consider it an achievement if they manage to celebrate Onam any time earlier than a month after Thiruvonam. But there is also immense pride and confidence in the Malayali ability to prosper wherever they are planted. The role that strong religious faith plays in keeping the flame of hope alive in the most hopeless of situations is emphasized throughout.

All in all, a lovely and inspiring movie. Do not forget to watch it!

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