When I landed in Kerala recently for a short vacation I was a little disappointed that there was not a single film playing in theatres which I hadn’t watched before. That was when I realized that extending my vacation by a few more days made sense as May 1st would see the release of Kamal Haasan’s Uttama Villain along with 3 Malayalam films, Chandrettan Evideya, Chirakodinja Kinavukal and She Taxi. All the 3 Malayalam films looked promising for various reasons. Sidharth Bharathan who had earlier remade one of his own father’s films Nidra (both the original and the remake carry the same title) was now attempting a family entertainer with Chandrettan Evideya featuring Dileep in the lead. Now Dileep hasn’t really been working on good films of late and the trailer and the songs from Chandrettan Evideya indicated that his search for a good film could end over here.
Those following Malayalam Cinema might be aware of the character of the screenwriter N.P.Ambujakshan (Sreenivasan) from Azhakiya Ravanan (1996) and his attempt to make a film based on his script. Well Chirakodinja Kinavukal pays tribute both to the character and this thread from the earlier film and the film promised to be a spoof film of sorts, with Kunchacko Boban geared up to play multiple characters. She Taxi is another film from the combination of writer Krishna Poojappura and director Saji Surendran and sees them work again with Anoop Menon, who was the male lead in their previous hit-Angry Babies in Love. She Taxi also sees the return of popular actress Kavya Madhvan after a brief hiatus. Considering all this I was obviously looking forward to watching these films in Kerala before I left back to Mumbai. But I hadn’t really prepared myself for the problems surrounding the release of Uttama Villain, the whole of Friday i.e 1st May was spent running around Coimbatore but then the film never released. And so I was back in Palakkad with just 2 days to go and 4 films to watch. With Uttama Villain being top priority I had to skip She Taxi (which I later had to endure in Mumbai) but ensured that I would certainly not miss the other 2, Chadrettan Evideya and Chirakodinja Kinavukal.
So here I go on to share my take on both these films, one after the other.
Director Santosh Vishwananath has combined with writer Praveen.S in an attempt to create a full length Malayalam spoof film over here. With the backing of a reputed producer (Listin Stephen) and with Sreenivasan himself reprising the character of tailor and screenplay writer, N.P.Ambujakshan, the film doesn’t waste much time in establishing the premise. Some 18 odd years after Azhakiya Ravanan Ambujakshan still feels that his tale of a love story between a woodcutter’s daughter and a tailor would work. In this day and age of new generation Malayalam Cinema, Ambujakshan feels his tale only needs a new dimension and a younger director to make it relevant for the youth of today. He goes on to narrate his story to an interested producer (Sunil Sukhada) and director (Manoj K.Jayan), the love story of the wood cutter (Joy Mathew)’s daughter Sumathi (Rima Kallingal) and Thayyalkaran (Kunchacko Boban). But Sumathi’s father does not approve of the romance and he decides to get his daughter married off to an NRI and in comes the antagonist, UK Karan (Kunchacko again). What happens to the relationship between Sumathi and Thayyalkaran, who ends up marrying Sumathi eventually? What happens to Ambujakshan’s film narration? All these and more are what we get to see in course of the film.
The film does start off well and there are quite a few chuckle worthy moments, especially when Ambujakshan is in the middle of his story narration. Even when we witness the love story of Thayyalkaran and Sumathi the spoof element does come to play in various fashions. But then Santosh Vishwanath and Praveen.S decide to extend their luck a little too much by trying to suddenly steer the spoof comedy into the thriller zone and eventually it ends up as a drama. The abrupt shift in the narratives does not help the film at all, as it loses the initial charm and spunk that one had started appreciating early on. The music by Deepak Dev is fairly good and the songs are quite melodious and suit the romantic story. The pick of the lot is “Nilaakkudame” (lyrics by B.K.Harinarayanan, sung by P.Jayachandran and Minmini), a lilting number. Joy Mathew has a routine role, Jacob Gregory and Srinda Ashab as the friends of Thayyalkaran and Sumathi respectively get some scope, while Manoj K.Jayan and Sunil Sukhada have only cameos here.
Sreenivasan is strictly functional here as N.P.Ambujakshan, probably his character graph is also to be blamed a bit for the same. Rima Kallingal seen after quite a while in a film is quite good as Sumathi. Her pairing with Kunchacko looks fresh on screen and both of them carry off the colourful costumes and stylized make-up (befitting the period look) quite well. Kunchacko Boban is very comfortable as Thayyalkaran, but the same cannot be said of his portrayal of UK Karan the antagonist where he looks visibly uncomfortable. As for the hype regarding his multiple avatars in the film, most of them are restricted to a few seconds of screen time with no dialogues as well and hence there’s nothing impressive about it. Overall Chirakodinja Kinavukal is quite an interesting attempt by Santosh Vishwanath, though the second half lets it down quite a bit.
In a marked departure from his previous film (Nidra), director Sidharth Bharathan goes in for a full on family entertainer in the form of Chandrettan Evideya. A few minutes into the film and you realize that the choice of actors like Dileep, Anusree and even Namitha Pramod works very well for the movie. Dileep is by far probably the most popular Malayalam actor now among family audiences and he has built up his career primarily by doing family centric films. But in the recent past his films have tended to get formulaic, with over the top comedy and scenarios which look straight out of a Tamil or Telugu film. Thankfully as the promos promised Chandrettan Evideya is a welcome departure of sorts for Dileep. The film revolves around Mattanur Chandramohan (Dileep), a Government servant working in Thiruvananthapuram. Chandramohan is also an ardent follower of classical dance and music, quite popular among the performing arts circles for his reviews of classical dance performances in popular magazines. Chandramohan’s family comprises of his wife Sushama (Anushree), also a Government employee and an only son.
Sushama lives in Thrissur along with their son and desperately wants to get a transfer to Thiruvananthapuram to be along with Chandramohan. Day in and day out she keeps calling Chandramohan partly out of love and partly to keep a tab of his activities. During a vacation they decide to go on a family trip to Thanjavur where they end up meeting a Nadi astrologer who reveals some interesting details of Chandramohan’s past life. How does this go on to impact the lives of Chandramohan and Sushama is what the rest of the film is all about. The first half of the film is funny and also slice of life in many ways. Having an intrusive wife and trying to balance family life along with some good times after work in the company of your friends is something that a lot of people would relate to. But what could otherwise look dull and similar to many other such films appears fresh and genuinely funny here, credit to Sidharth Bharathan and writer Santhosh Echikkanam for the same.
But during the course of the second half things do get a little predictable and you clearly know how the film would end. If only there could have been some more inventiveness in the writing, probably this could have also been avoided to an extent. Prashant Pillai’s compositions (just 2 songs) work well and ‘Vasanthamallike’ (lyrics by Santosh Varma, sung by Haricharan and Preeti Pillai) is already an earworm by now. Thankfully the run time of around 126 minutes is just about right and credit to Editor Bavan Sreekumar for the same. The cinematography by Shyju Khalid is quite effective, brings out the contrast between the period look and the contemporary quite well, also the numerous night shots in the present are captured quite well. The film boasts of some really good supporting actors and all of them do justice to their roles. KPAC Lalitha as the Government employee who is more seen in temples than at work is a sheer delight and Chemban Vinod continues his good form here. Mukesh plays a role that he’s very comfortable with and thankfully Suraj Venjaramoodu doesn’t irritate over here.
Namitha Pramod fits the character of Dr.Geethanjali who is more interested in dance than the medical profession. She continues to impress with every film of late and is a good fit as the third angle to the plot. Anusree as Sushama is a livewire and it’s difficult to think of anyone else today who can carry off the role so well. Similar to Diamond Necklace and Ithihasa this would again be remembered as one of her landmark appearances. Eventually Chandretten Evideya is a Dileep show and he is clearly in his elements over here. Without any over the top comedy sequences and keeping the proceedings as realistic as possible, it is nice to finally watch Dileep in a movie which reminds us of his better films. If only the proceedings in the 2nd half had some more novelty the film could have been even better. But for now let us be happy with the fact that it has been an interesting attempt within the tried and tested zone.
Note- Both the films Chirakodinja Kinavukal and Chandrettan Evideya have a lot in common-made by young directors trying to say something new despite having an old premise, aided with some good actors and with a good run time. In addition to these it’s also interesting that both of the films had a lot of potential but the results are not completely satisfactory.