Watching the promos of the film Malayankunju, I was hoping to see a movie that will be primarily set in a claustrophobic space to be a survival thriller in form. But what was interesting is that the survival part is relatively minimal, and the film works immensely because of the details we get to see in the first half of the film. With a terrific Fahadh Faasil at the center of it, Malayankunju is an absorbing experience. It shows you that realistic/Prakriti films can also be a grand theatrical experience.
Anil Kumar, aka Anikuttan, is our central character. He repairs electronic stuff from his home to earn a living. He is a peculiar character who lacks empathy, and there are reasons for that behavior. His father’s demise and sister’s affair made him this unlikeable person. The central drama unfolds when Anikuttan gets trapped under a pile of mud and rocks because of a landslide.
What I admired the most about this film is the way it sets the premise. The writer in Mahesh Narayanan knows how important it is for the audience to know Anikuttan. In order to feel for that man and his evolution, it was essential to know him in detail. His hatred towards the Dalit, his anger towards his sister, his love towards his father, etc., are unveiled to us step by step. Man’s interference in nature is ultimately the cause of all problems, and Mahesh Narayanan has utilized a seemingly insignificant comedy scene to emphasize that.
The structuring of the screenplay that goes back and forth to draw the picture of Anikuttan in a non-linear way holds a key role in making the first half of the film engaging. Even when the movie shifts to the confined space, the character exploration part continues. From drinking muddy water to taking a baby whose sound he hated, the journey to the top from the bottom has Anikuttan rectifying his ideological flaws.
Sajimon, in his debut venture, knows how to unveil details subtly. The scene that establishes the camps during floods is one such sequence. By showing Anikuttan and friends playing in a school ground, they established the climate, Anikuttan’s attitude, and how normal it is for the people of that part of the world. This non-verbal detailing helps the film a lot in having that backtracking quality. Mahesh Narayanan, who handled the cinematography for the film, knows how to maintain the mood through frames. The edits are mainly on the calmer side, and the pacing of the cuts was in sync with the attitude of Anikuttan.
At the beginning of the second half, AR Rahman’s background score unsettles you because of its odd nature. But that unfamiliar start somewhere helps the movie in depicting the emotional turmoil and relief of Anikuttan as the story progresses. The movie’s sound design is excellent, and please try to watch this movie from a theater equipped with Dolby Atmos. The production design of the film is also top-notch.
One can argue that Anikuttan is a mix of some famous characters Fahadh has pulled off in the past. But ultimately, the character looks natural, and he is the only person you see for most time in the second half of this survival drama. How he has performed that character’s transition is nothing short of brilliant. Jaya Kurup, as Anikuttan’s mother, and Deepu Navaikulam, as the neighbor, were memorable in their roles. Indrans, Jaffer Idukki, and Rajisha Vijayan did their part neatly in those relatively smaller roles.
Malayankunju is not just an achievement on a practicality level. Beyond the glory of Anikuttan’s survival, Mahesh Narayanan focuses on everything that shaped Anikuttan. Natural calamities are always linked with Karma; one can see that track even in Anikuttan’s journey. Malayankunju from Sajimon is a well-made survival drama that offers an immersive cinematic experience.
Malayankunju from Sajimon is a well-made survival drama that offers an immersive cinematic experience.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended