Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pazhashi Raja/Kerala Cafe

Watched two movies in the theatres in 5 days, which is really rare for me. I tend to stick to DVDs, so am a little out of date with the latest ones. A step behind in a dance, as it were. But Pazhassiraja (director Hariharan) and Kerala Café (director Ranjith) were really a refreshing change from the run- of- the- mill male- chauvinistic dhisoom -dhishoom movies one has been seeing here lately.

Pazhassiraja did not do justice to the huge budget production wise. The costumes, particularly those of the British, were very bad, taken from some drama troupe. They really should have been better. Mamooty did a fairly good job, not his best effort though. It was Sharath Kumar, as Pazhassiraja’s right hand man Kungan Nair, who walked away with accolades right under Mamooty’s nose. The rest of the cast was adequate, that’s all. In spite of all these short comings, what really made you enjoy the movie was the historical fact that this small prince from a small principality in Kerala was the first person other than Tippu Sultan to stand up against the might of the British army. As he says, what right does someone who has come to trade in pepper and spices have to rule over us and make the laws that govern us? Really makes for chest thumping stuff for a Mallu. History books don’t talk about Pazhassiraja much. He fought the British from the forests of Wayanad using guerilla tactics, hitting them where it hurt and then disappearing into the forests with his trusted tribal kurichi warriors. Finally, his lieutenants arrested and hanged for treason, he put up one last defiant fight against the British and is overwhelmed. If I remember right, the Malayalam history books said he committed suicide rather than be arrested by the British, but the movie ends with Pazhassi Raja fighting the British armies single handedly and dying a valiant death. Those interested might want to check this link:

Kerala Café was a different kind of experience all together. 10 ten-minute short movies made by 10 different directors, cast and music directors, all the stories coming together at Kerala Café, a railway tea room in an un named town in Kerala. Each story is different, none of the ten have a common thread running thru them, yet they come together so beautifully, you have to give credit to Renjith whose idea this was, for keeping the reins tight and dovetailing them so well in the end. Though each individual story was good, those that really stood out were “Bridge” by Anwar Rasheed and “Makal” by Revathy. Gut wrenching stories both of them. “Happy Journey” by Anjali Menon also was noteworthy with Jagathy Sreekumar doing a great job as a co passenger in a bus.

I made the mistake of watching the movies in Kochi. Forget the fact that the theaters are run down and dilapidated. One can’t really blame them, because all the new releases have been in Ernakulam so by the time they get across the bridge to Kochi, there’s hardly an audience available. Last month though, we had two new releases here - Pazhassiraja in Kokers and Kerala Café in Sui. As part of my pledge to encourage local businesses, I watched the movies here. Big mistake. The crowd was rowdy and in disciplined, smoking inside the theatre and making loud comments which took away some of the enjoyment of the movies.

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