Off late, the emphasis on visuals in director Jayaraj’s works have been very high and the new film Bhayanakam, part of his Navarasa series, achieves great heights in that department. I am not saying that only the cinematography is great here. Powered by a very organic performance from Renji Panicker this movie from Jayaraj is a heart-wrenching drama that will touch your heart. With metaphorical visual presentation hitting you hard, Bhayanakam, based on Thakazhi Shivashankara Pillai’s Kayar, is a really well-made movie that explores another dimension of fear.
So a postman is our central protagonist. He was a part of the First World War and has got this job after he got badly injured in the left leg in the war. As he used to be the carrier of the money sent by the soldiers, everyone liked him including the woman along with whom he lived there. The plot changes drastically when the Second World War begins. And the job of the postman also changed from being the messenger of happiness to being the messenger of death. The conflicts he had to go through in that phase is what Bhayanakam revealing.
The second half of the movie Bhayanakam is something that will make you uncomfortable. The way Jayaraj has captured the emotional turmoil of the postman in that phase is deeply haunting. It had the quality to make you think about a particular aspect of war and realizing that this was the effect of the Second World War on the poor people of those days, the pain only increases. Jayaraj has given two different color tones to each half of the movie. The gray second half has this black and white coloring. Through various scenes, he manages to successfully depict the change in people’s approach towards the postman. In one scene, seeing the postman a lady cries loud assuming her son died and our protagonist had to yell at them to say that nobody has died. The central conflict of the movie that has him hiding a key fact was also depicted very effectively and I found myself nervous to find out how he will reveal it.
Renji Panicker who has been playing either cool dads or police heads gets to play the role of a well-written character and he is terrific in being the postman. The second half has him crying, coughing and facing the anger and disgust of people and the actor in him enacts all of that brilliantly. Asha Sarath has a key role in the movie. And for me, the only major glitch in the film was her performance. She emotes neatly, but there was something missing in her dialogue delivery that severely increased the theatricality. The other members in the cast including some of the familiar faces we see in Jayaraj movies performed neatly.
As I said, Jayaraj uses visuals to a great extent to show the depth of the situation. The first half is pretty much a pleasant one where we have the postman giving people the money their loved ones sent. The culture and scenic beauty of Kuttanad are captured in that phase. In the second half, Nikhil S Praveen’s camera is focusing more on the negative shade of things. The monsoon becomes the major backdrop and our hero is struggling to cope up with the reality that he has slowly become the messenger of death. Those wide angle visuals depict the degree of loneliness he faces fabulously. The sound design is impressive and so were the cuts. The music is used minimally and the background score manages to impress you as it deepens the horror.
Bhayanakam explores the terror and horror of a war through the viewpoint of a postman. His struggle to do his duty in that critical situation not only generates empathy in us towards him but also manages to show us the horrific repercussions of a war, something a lot of people consider as a podium to show strength. Barring the flaws in Asha Sarath’s dialogue delivery, Bhayanakam is one movie that you shouldn’t miss.
Bhayanakam explores the terror and horror of a war through the viewpoint of a postman.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended