I have always been a die-hard romantic like so many of you out there and grew up on a staple diet of romantic tales, derived from literature and cinema. Whenever I would think of those classic love stories like Romeo-Juliet, Heer-Ranjha, Shirin-Farhad, Dhola-Maru, Devdas etc I have always wondered whether such romantic tales are practical in today’s times. But then these tales seem to be certainly having many takers, why else do we find adaptations of Romeo-Juliet and Devdas happening time and again? When I watched Yash Chopra’s Veer Zara I again felt what’s the reason that makes Veer and Zara remain in love for so many years, despite being separated and not even knowing if they will ever get to be with each other. The film may have been a typical YRF vehicle, but it was special in many ways especially for the way the romance between Veer and Zara was projected. Time and again I ask myself what would make someone wait so much for his/her beloved, what is it about love that could make one attempt to survive amidst all odds, why would go out of the way to live, breathe and celebrate love? R.S. Vimal’s Ennu Ninte Moideen is a film which makes me think of all these once again.
By now perhaps many of us know that R.S.Vimal is set to have been deeply influenced by the popular true love story of Kanchanamala and Moideen which spawned from the 1960’s to the early 80’s. Set against the backdrop of river Iruvanjippuzha and Mukkam village, R.S.Vimal first set about paying tribute to the romantic tale in the form of his documentary film on the subject, Jalam Kond Murivetaval (2006). With more research conducted further over the years he has made his feature film on the story, Ennu Ninte Moideen. Originally slated for release in Kerala and prominent cities in the Rest of India from 18th September, the film got caught in the standoff between the distributors association and exhibitors federation, and managed to release in Kerala alone the next day (19th September). But the film opened up to a thundering reception in Kerala, pleasing both the audience and critics and finally the film has now opened outside Kerala as well.
Moideen (Prithviraj) and Kanchanamala (Parvathy,aka Parvathy Menon) were friends from their school days, belong to the picturesque Mukkam in Kozhikode district. Having grown up together, Kanchanamala is on her way to becoming a doctor while Moideen is a socialist and a keen football enthusiast as well. They fall in love in a very uncharacteristic fashion, with word play through letters being exchanged to convey their romance to each other, the beginning of a never ending love. Their fathers Unni Moideen Sahib (Saikumar) and Madhavan (Sashi Kumar) are close friends no doubt, but when the families get to know of the romance building up between Moideen and Kanchanamala, all hell breaks loose. The families cut off ties with each other, Kanchanamala is put under a house arrest of sorts and Moideen is also made to suffer as he is forced to leave his home as his father, a Congressman is neither in favour of his son’s socialist leanings or his inter religious love affair. Ennu Ninte Moideen is a look back at this classic tale of love which withstood the vagaries of time and various other variables.
It’s a little difficult to imagine people waiting for their beloved endlessly, without even getting to meet each other on a regular basis. Even back in the 60’s when the romance blossomed between Moideen and Kanchanmala it would have been difficult for people around them to expect something like this to happen. But that’s the power of true love and considering that R.S.Vimal has virtually lived with this tale for the last 8 years or so his writing has brought life into their tale. Despite the story being so old the screenplay is powerful enough to hook the audience and make one ignore a few loose ends that’s perhaps visible in the tale. Whenever and wherever cinematic liberty has been taken up it does not come across as jarring and that is a big help to the narrative. It would have been easy for R.S.Vimal to take the easy route and incorporate songs and moments to show intimacy between the lead pair, but he’s done well to stay away from it.
Make no mistake, the film does have songs, quite a few in fact as required in a romantic tale but then they do not stick out like a sore thumb and make you wonder why a true love story needed all this. It takes some time to get absorbed into the lives of Moideen and Kanchanamala, but once that happens there’s no looking back whatsoever.Despite being a serious romantic tale it’s also interesting to see R.S.Vimal’s infusion of humour at some places, again this is quite subtle and never goes overboard. The film also scores well by depicting the period (60’s to early 80’s) quite convincingly and it’s good to see the prudent use of elements like cinema (the hit horror film Lisa, reference to erstwhile superstar Jayan) and politics (Indira Gandhi, Congress, Communists) to indicate the same as well. The production design of the film is a plus point indeed and the audience is actually transported back in time as the tale unfolds.
Mukkam and its surrounding areas including the Iruvanjippuzha River (though the film is set in Mukkam, apparently most of the film was shot in & around Shoranur in Palakkad district) are captured in all their glory thanks to the cinematography of Jomon T.John. Rain is a major element used in the tale to move forward the story of Moideen and Kanchanamala, and it has been used effectively, adding to the visual beauty of the film. At a run time of 168 minutes the film is indeed a tad too long, but editor Mahesh Narayanan ensures that the pace doesn’t drop and it is to R.S.Vimal’s credit that there is never a dull moment as such in the film. Gopi Sunder’s BGM is first rate and quite effective hitting the right notes at the right time. The songs by M.Jayachandran, Ramesh Narayan and Gopi Sunder are also quite pleasing and suit the period tale pretty well indeed. Its not fair to single out songs but the ones which really work the best include M.Jayachandran’s charming “Kannondu Chollanu” (lyrics by Rafeeq Ahamed, sung by Shreya Ghoshal and Vijay Yesudas), Gopi Sunder’s haunting “Mukkathe Penne” (written and sung by Mohammed Maqbool Mansoor) and Ramesh Narayan’s soulful “Ee Mazhathan” (lyrics by Rafeeq Ahamed and sung by Sujatha Mohan and K.J.Yesudas)The film has a stellar star-cast; this is another aspect which works in favour of the movie actually.
Sudheer Karamana as Mukkam Bhasi, the friend of Moideen leaves a mark and so do Kalaranjini (Kanchanamala’s mother), Lena (Moideen’s mother), Shivaji Guruvayoor (Kanchanmala’s uncle) and Sashi Kumar (Kanchanamala’s father). Saikumar as Unni Moideen Sahib leaves a strong impact and the confrontation scenes between him and his son are very good. Tovino Thomas as Appu who silently loves Kanchanmala and Bala as Sethu, the brother of Kanchanmala also get noticed. All said and done it’s hard to imagine Ennu Ninte Moideen without Prithviraj and Parvathy as they enact the characters of Moideen and Kanchanamala wonderfully. Despite not sharing too many scenes together the chemistry between them is quite visible, adding a lot of flair to the romantic tale. For Prithviraj this film is again a reminder that given the right script and character he will always be a force to reckon with and Parvathy proves once again that she is one of the most talented actresses around these days.The last scene where we see an emotionally drained Kanchanamala being led to by Moideen’s mother inside their home, when Kanchanamala fondly looks back to see Moideen smiling before fading away is proof enough of Prithviraj and Parvathy’s talent-they convey so much without any dialogues.
Except perhaps for the shoddy VFX work in the climax of the film there’s hardly a false note that the film carries and it’s indeed creditable that R.S.Vimal has made his feature film debut in a remarkable fashion. It is also encouraging to see producers Suresh Raj, Binoy Shankarath and Ragy Thomas supporting R.S.Vimal in this endeavour completely, making them totally deserving of the success that the film has gone on to be. Ennu Ninte Moideen is eventually a charming romantic tale which should hopefully stand the test of time, just as the real life story of Moideen and Kanchanamala.
Note- The film is playing with English subtitles now outside Kerala. The subtitling by Rekhs and Latha is of a very high standard, the songs have also been subtitled make it a pleasure to soak into the same. I never found the subtitles to be out of sync with the dialogues at any point of time.