The best of the year lists will be out soon. It is December and an annual ritual for people who love and crave good cinema worldwide; so that rest of the brigade are abreast with the best that they missed out. Critics and cinema lovers will be divided on their opinions with regards to the best of cinema. Some will have a list constituting the best of cinema which includes world cinema and international films, some with their Indian counterparts and some regional.
And in all this lies the high probability of a film called Munnariyippu which may not find any takers.
Because it is made by a director who is not tech savvy on the internet domain and doesn’t have friends and twitter celebrities who recommend films on #youknowwhere.
Because there is an aging superstar who has got so used to doing such crap of mammoth proportions that even the audience doesn’t care.
And more importantly it is the kind of film where no cinema lover has recommended his other peers to watch and give it a chance. An opportunity which may make this film have a cult following at the least or may let it fade into oblivion.
Munnariyippu in English means Warning. And a warning it is. For the mediocrity that earns crores in various film industries spread across this country. And a warning to us that even we miss out on such cinema.
The film follows the journey of 2 protagonists; a female journalist and a criminal convicted for 2 murders and how their worlds merge for a mutual agenda. One who is struggling to make a mark in her respective field and the other who even after completing his term is happy to be within the confines of the jail. One who is giving in to the demands of the pragmatic and competitive world and the other who is not able to inscribe his words because inventive and original thoughts cannot be bounded under the deadline of ruthless timeframes. Anjali Arrackal (Aparna Gopinath) and C.K Raghavan (Mammootty) are the respective characters and it is a refreshing relation.
Conveying more about the film will be an absolute disservice to the joy of watching this classic in contemporary times and more of it has to do with the sheer brilliance of writing by Unni R.
Venu, the director of the film and a renowned cinematographer for films like Minasara Kanavu (Sapnay in Hindi), Guna, Manichitrathazhu etc; delivers a knockout of a film which deals with freedom, exploitation and manipulation of creativity against the ruthlessness of the corrupt. And the layers are so insightful and philosophical that one is left astonished by the time it concludes.
A special mention to Bijibal for the outstanding background score as it maintains an aura of secrecy and reflective of the film’s main theme along with Beena Paul’s sharp and neat editing to sustain a languid pace.
With an endearing cast of Nedumudi Venu, Prathap Pothen, Renji Panicker, Joy Matthew in small but really significant roles along with a lip smacking cameo by Prithviraj, Venu gets it all right in every department. But the film belongs to Aparna Gopinath as the female lead and a character that we identify with in our daily life struggling to make a mark and not letting go of that opportunity which may well turn out a defining moment in her career. She has got a taste of it, but the prospects of making it much bigger and her descent to coerce Raghavan in writing is so delicately nuanced.
And reserve all the applauds to Mr.Mammootty for the year in giving us a performance that will actually amaze you with sheer astonishment as the film unfolds and reaches it’s well deserved climax. HE has been ridiculed in the last few years and agreeably so, HE witnessed what his young contemporaries were doing around and HE shows us what only HE and only HE is capable of.
C.K Raghavan will go down as one of the most important characters ever written and it is only to his credit that we don’t know which path the film will take.
For reasons mostly unknown the film hasn’t been lucky when it comes to distribution. It’s a rare Mammootty film in recent times which has not had a proper release outside Kerala. Even when it comes to film festivals, the track record has been patchy. It was supposed to get screened in the Mumbai Film Festival and the reasons are unclear on why it backed out or didn’t make the cut finally. With respect to the recently concluded International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) also its a somewhat similar tale. Thankfully at IFFI-Goa, the film did make it to the Indian Panorama, thus reaching out to the audience there. Munnariyippu is also part of the line-up at the ongoing Chennai International Film Festival.
We watch cinema world over. We watch cinema which releases nationwide in our country. But there are films which go unrecognised and the reasons must have been aplenty. It will be a huge loss for pure cinema lovers if Munnariyippu doesn’t get the well deserved accolade and appreciation. It’s also a surprise that despite all the critical acclaim the film did not really appeal to a vast majority of the audience in Kerala, as seen by the average performance at the box office, whereas Mammootty’s own Rajadhi Raja a formula masala film, which released just 2 weeks after Munnariyippu went on to become a hit.
Munariyippu is the best Indian film of the year and I am sticking my neck out for it. Are you?
Note- People in & around Chennai,please note that Munnariyippu will be playing at Woodlands Symphony Theatre,Chennai at 2.45 P.M on Wednesday,24h December as part of the ongoing Chennai International Film Festival. For a complete schedule of the festival,check here.