When we sort of know how the story is going to unfold, filmmaking becomes a tricky thing as it becomes tough to hold the interest of the viewer beyond a point. The best thing I noticed about the new Nivin Pauly starrer Kayamkulam Kochunni is the fact that the director Rosshan Andrewss managed to deliver captivating moments at regular intervals of time to keep us engaged in a story that isn’t delivering anything totally unpredictable. The technically solid movie has the material to keep you hooked up to its familiar narrative even after the movie is 170 minutes long.
So the story is taken from Aithihyamala. Kochunni is a Muslim boy who reached Kayamkulam at a very young age as his mother requested him to stay away from his hometown. He gained the trust of some people in Kayamkulam and worked in a grocery shop. But at one point, the crooked upper-class Hindus sort of uses him for their gain and then punished him for something he didn’t commit. How that event eventually becomes the reason for the phenomenon called Kayamkulam Kochunni is what this movie written by Bobby and Sanjay dealing with.
I am not someone who is familiar with Aithihyamala so I am not going to talk about the accuracy of the movie on that level. The film is narrated as a flashback story where we see the rise of this innocent young boy. Kochunni is our version of Robin Hood and we all know the drill of how they will establish that goodness. You have template scenes of him helping the needy and the poor. And what’s ironic is the timing of the movie to release. It shows Kayamkulam Kochunni as a social reformer and here we are in the 21st century acting like the ones who acted against Kochunni (let’s skip the debatable discussions). Like I said, Rosshan Andrrews sort of knows how to pep it up at the right time. Just when you feel that Kochunni is taking a little too long to establish his true self, we get introduced to Ithikkara Pakki performed gracefully by a Maximus looking Mohanlal. The second half is the part where we see the Robin Hood avatar of Kochunni and there also the script manages to keep it on a compelling level with fewer clichés.
Nivin Pauly as Kochunni is not entirely steady. I liked him as the naïve young Kochunni and also the vigorous shade we get to see towards the end. The middle ones where he is sharing screen space with Mohanlal are a bit unconvincing. On some of the sequences, we can sense him sort of mocking his own macho version. Mohanlal as Ithikkara Pakki is a huge bonus to the movie. The film has a major transition post interval and the way Mohanlal has performed the role of Pakki with cunningness and “thief” ethics in that grey shaded portrayal elevates that phase in a really nice way. Babu Antony as the mentor Thangal is easily the perfect choice to play that role and his performance was steady. Sunny Wayne was also nice even though his dialogue delivery at times sounded a bit awkward. Priya Anand as Janaki doesn’t have much space here to really be a heroine with a memorable part.
There are moments that will definitely show you the craft of Roshann Andrrews. The sequence where Kochunni climbs the tree to study Thulu Nadan Kalari was shown in a single shot and it got unraveled gently and the result was a memorable one. Many such moments including the introduction sequence of Ithikkara Pakki was there, which in my opinion made this script a little more engaging. There is a sense of pace that Sreekar Prasad has managed to give to the narrative and that really helps this movie in keeping us invested in the proceedings. Maybe because of the movie’s wide appeal, Bobby Sanjay who has written the script hasn’t tried to make things subtle here, something I liked in Mumbai Police. The script manages to include characters like Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma and Ithikkara Pakki and utilizes them to move the story forward. Even though you can sense what will happen in the climax, there is grandeur to the visuals Binod Pradhan has created. The music is fine and the background score was even more pleasing (hopefully it isn’t a plagiarized product).
Kayamkulam Kochunni isn’t a path-breaking attempt to be raved about. It is a smartly designed commercial movie that projects its central character in a typical yet exciting way. With a lot of realities of that age getting depicted on the screen within the texture of a hero-worshipping commercial drama, Kayamkulam Kochunni is ultimately a fun movie.
Kayamkulam Kochunni isn’t a path-breaking attempt to be raved about. It is a smartly designed commercial movie that projects its central character in a typical yet exciting way.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended