Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: Iyobinte Pusthakam (Malayalam Movie)

Cast: Fahadh Faasil (Aloshi), Lal (Iyob), Isha Sharvani (Martha), Jayasurya (Angoor Ravuthar), Padmapriya (Rahel), Reenu Mathews (Annamma), Lena (Kazhali), Chemban Vinod Jose (Dimitri), Jinu Joseph (Ivan), TG Ravi (Comrade), Sreejith Ravi (the young Comrade), Amith Chackalakal (Nizam Ravuthar), Ahebin Benson, Saritha Kuku, Nebish Benson, Sal Yusuf (Harrison), Rita Mathen (Harrison’s British wife), Aashiq Abu (Antony), Amala Paul (Guest Appearance)  
Genre: Period Drama, Thriller
Direction: Amal Neerad
Production: Amal Neerad, Fahad Faasil
Story By: Gopan Chidambaram
Screenplay by: Gopan Chidambaram, Syam Pushkaran
Edited by: Praveen Prabhakar
Cinematographer: Amal Neerad
Music: Neha S Nair, Yakzan Gary Pereira
Distributed by: A & A Release
Release Date: 7th November, 2014
Language: Malayalam
Duration: 2 hours 40 minutes

Iyobinte Pusthakam, a masterpiece Malayalam movie by Amal Neerad with great star cast and their stellar performances. It is a very intense movie, handled with great maturity. The narration is by Comrade (TG Ravi) in the year 1976 about the events which spanned across a few decades in the pre-independence period, which he had witnessed during his younger days (Sreejith Ravi). Slavery, rivalry, hatred, vengeance, shrewdness, murders, love, comradeship etc. all are projected so beautifully.

The opening scene of the movie is with a few people standing still, looking up. On being asked, the response is that they are making a movie. But the narrator says, why to look up for making a movie, just to look at life to get a story for the movie and that is how, Comrade starts narrating the intriguing story of Iyob, a slave turned master, and his three sons. A quote from Bible is worth mention here which sets the whole preamble of the movie: “It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. (Job 32: )”.

The year is 1906. Set in the backdrop of the picturesque Munnar, Harrison (Sal Yusuf, a British Planter) makes inroads to Munnar with his wife (Rita Mathen). As used to be the practice, he forces the poor people to work for him. That is where, Harrison meets  a young slave who was beaten up by Harrisson’s supervisor Thacho. Harrison encourages the young slave to give it back. Slowly Harrison earns the trust of that young slave and  rechristens him as Iyob (Lal) and makes him one of the most obeying servant. Harrison after a few years gets Iyob married off to Annamma (Reeni Mathews). Iyob and Annamma becomes parents to three kids [who grow up to be Dimitri (Chemban Vinod Jose), Ivan (Jinu Joseph) and Aloshi (Faahad Faasil)]. Rita, being fed up of life at Munnar, leaves Harrison and goes back to London. During that period, Kazhali (Lena), a nomadic, comes to the Munnar from Nilgiris and the distraught Harrisson is enamoured by this dusky beauty. Harrison makes Kazhali her mistress. When Harrisson dies of sudden cardiac arrest at Kochi, pregnant Kazhali is ousted by Iyob, and Iyob transforms himself into a master from a slave, as atrocious as Britishers. Though Kazhali cursed Iyob and his children while thrown out of the house, she continued her friendship with Annamma. Her daughter Martha and Aloshi also developed a great bond.   

The biggest blow to Iyob comes in the form of Annamma’s death. Aloshy flees to Kochi without letting anybody know when he witnessed a cruel act by his two elder brothers. Aloshy later on joins British Royale Navy and later after many years when he comes back to village to take Martha along with him, he gets astonished to find that his brothers and father have not mended their ways, rather have become more cruel. Murky currents of hatred have only grown stronger. Dimitri, a womanizer and is an abusive husband to Rahel (Padmapriya). Ivan is brutal. Martha and Kazhali were outcasts, since the villagers believed that they practiced black magic.

Aloshy seldom smiles, the only moment we see him smiling is during song sequence with Martha or at the mention of Martha. His ideologies are essentially based on humanistic values, and he never thinks twice before disowning his father and brothers for what he believes to be right. Aloshy believes that in a land ruled by anarchy, attack is the best defence.

Angoor Ravuthar (Jayasurya), a timber merchant, enters into the scene, who doesn’t get the permission from Iyob to get the timber from Munnar. This rivalry costs Iyob a lot.

Character of the veteran Communist Leader and member of the first State Legislative Assembly Rosamma Punnose and her comrades are also shown in the movie who play pivotal roles. History says that it was Ms. Punnose who laid a firm foundation for the plantation workers’ trade union movement.

How does the story unfold thereafter? How does Aloshi move further? How does he handle his ruthless brothers? Is he able to take Martha along? What happens to Iyob and his other two sons? Is Angoor able to fulfill his intentions? Does Rahel play just as a victim to her abusive and impotent husband or her role has other shades as well? The movie has the right mix of history and fiction to reveal the story.

What terrific performances from Fahaad, Lal, Jayasurya, Chemban Vinod Jose, Jinu Jospeh.  Vinayakan as Chemban (Aloshi’s friend) has also given a superb performance. Rather the entire cast has given outstanding performances.

No exaggerated dialogues are exchanged between the characters. So thoughtfully written and directed. Various emotions anguish, hatred, fear, vengeance etc. are all projected through non-verbal expressions, worth mentioning. Even the love angle between Aloshi and Martha is played in such a subtle manner. The item number by Amala Paul is well shot but seemed out of place.

The movie finishes with a beautiful dialogue: People like Aloshy who have travelled all around the world and tolerant in nature will change the world one day.

Iyobinte Pusthakam is a masterpiece with perfect amalgamation of Direction, Story, Screenplay, Star Cast, Performances and Visuals.

Rating: 4.5 /5

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