God’s Mischief -The Journey of Survival

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Pathemari
Direction: Salim Ahamed
Cast: Mammootty, Jewel Mary, Siddique, Sreenivasan, Salim Kumar, Shaheen Siddique, Viji Chandrasekhar and Joy Mathew.

Plot premise:The plot features the life of Pallikkal Narayanan who migrated to the Middle-East during his teenage years in the early 1980s, when the Kerala Gulf boom was at its peak. He belongs to a very poor family and was forced to take up the responsibilities at a young age. He plans to leave Gulf and settle in his hometown when he comes for every vacation; but is always forced to go back.

12107808_10153714338017774_3017800305717842928_nEven adventure enthusiasts would think twice before crossing the Arabian Sea on a dhow without ample gadgets.  50 years ago, desperately poor Malayalees with no hope, little skills and a growling belly, hung on to the billowing sails that took them to an unknown land of plenty. The newly gushing oil wells of the Persian Gulf were beckoning cheap labour in the mid-1960s.

12079518_10153716277907774_2037661269262551633_nThe first generation of migrant Malayalee workers who ended up in the deserts of West Asia knew not where they were headed for. They only knew their Dravidian tongue, the virgin paddy fields, the bountiful rivers and the sound of the never-ending rain, but soon they were all Malayalees of Arabia, turning their desert dreams into mansions back home, building a new Kerala.

10410697_10153494170737774_1450299502487338457_nPathemari” or “the dhow” recreate the journey of a young, desperate Malayalee from the Kerala coast to the Gulf in an old cargo vessel. Malayalees’ Mega Star’ Mammooty, play the role of the carpetbagger. Interestingly, 35 years ago, Mammooty had played a small role in Vilkkanundu Swapnangal(1980) the first Malayalam movie on the Gulf migration. Mammootty’s voice was dubbed by Sreenivasan.

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Every Keralite has at least one friend or relative who is struggling to support his/her family by working tirelessly in Dubai. Pathamari” is about such struggling Malayalis in Dubai. As it is a familiar story for many of us, there is no suspense element in it, but we still sit firmly on our seats just to see what happens next.

USMM 30 - 3The way the movie ends is also quite nice and this adds to the overall good when Narayanan’s coffin is brought in, his best friend proposes that it be kept on the verandah of the new house that was being built, that had been the man’s dream. When his sons think otherwise, Narayanan leaves home once again, never to return.

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SALT MANGO TREE: 3.5/5
SALT (chemistry):The story is not new, but the way it has been presented along with the right casting makes it a must watch. Hats off to director Salim Ahamed for bringing such a real life story to reel life, helping many realise the struggles of each and every pravasi
MANGO (what’s fresh?): Refreshing to see Sreenivasan in a role that tells a tale or two of its own.
TREE (strength): After critically praised C.K. Raghavan in Munnariyippu(2014) & the disturbingly real Venu in Varsham(2014). Mammooty’s Pallikkal Narayanan is yet one more of his most hard-hitting performances during recent times, it is a treat to watch the hero, who portrays the character in a dedicated manner.

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  • Courtesy : various sources

The Period of Giants

“A lead actor turns “Superstar”! There are no rules decorating an actor as a superstar; it’s forever crowned by “The media” once an actor turn winner at the box office.”

Rewind to the 1950s; lesser known to the GenX, late “Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair” was “first” in the history of Malayalam films to be echoed a superstar. Since the remarkable success of his second outing Jeevithanauka (1951), also hyped the earliest super hit of Malayalam cinema.

In a little while 1950 got flagged as “The Period of Giants” in Malayalam film industry, due to fresh superstars Sathyan and Prem Nazir. The duo fashioned a bipolar industry during which a large number of films made in Malayalam starred one of them, until the rise of Jayan; an action star.

Led by Jayan, Cinema in 1970 surfaced a new genre of pure action films. Mostly considered the first saleable superstar of Malayalam cinema, Jayan was legendary for his macho image, his chauvinistic appeal, masculine persona and performing stunts of risky nature on his own. Jayan’s early death while at stunt in the film Kolilakkam (1980), creased means for the Golden age of Malayalam cinema.

A good number of critics and audiences consider the period from the late 1980s to early 1990s as the golden age of Malayalam cinema, with varied themes and upcoming actors proving their talents in both commercial and art genres.

The most illustrious golden age saw the rise of an eternally powerful superstar duo Mammootty & Mohanlal. The Mammukka-Lalettan duo surprisingly re-generated the Nazir-Sathyan style and established themselves as the forever dominant superstars. It is easy to see why Kerala was floored big time for the two giants. Two different actors, who had the acting intelligence to blow you out and the charm that only the stars hold.

On the lines of Jayan’s prominence under the glory of Superstars Nazir & Sathyan, The duo soon scent competition when Suresh Gopi, famous for his roles in police dramas emerged as a bankable superstar by mid 1990s. Suresh brought back a string of booming action movies having police/political themes, most notably Commissioner (1994).

Over and above the limits of common sense arrived 2000, the first year of the 21st century. Among the loads of confusing brainless slapstick comedies released, few really interesting comedies did well.  Tamil and Hindi movies got accepted in Kerala, and several movie theatres transformed to marriage halls.

Remember Meesa Madhavan (2002)?? The first blockbuster during then made a star out of funnyman Dileep. Dileep emerged super star during this declined phase of Malayalam film industry. Malayalam films continued to fail at the box-office while new potential actors of the likes Kunchako Boban, Prithviraj & Jayasurya arrived.  Quite surprisingly, thanks to the likes of Narasimham (2000), Raavanaprabhu (2001), Sethurama Iyer CBI (2004) Twenty: 20 (2008), Pazhassi Raja (2009) the giants retained their dominance and still reigned high.

In due course talks were all about, it’s dead-end for the two giant super stars of Malayalam Cinema. It seemed the whole Malayalam cinema saw it coming on January 7 2011 when Traffic released.  Trashing all formulas, trends and stereo types, it roars out the message of new age cinema’s arrival to Malayalam cine goers.

In my point of view, Traffic will in no way be only considered one more blockbuster; it was a universally acclaimed path-breaker. It let free the year long roadblocks in Malayalam Cinema. Traffic did not star at all so-called superstars. It did not have a huge director behind the screens nor did it have any chart buster songs. Yes! It had a true story and true to life characters. A brand new ensemble cast of Sreenivasan, Rahman, Kunchako Boban, Asif Ali, Anoop Menon, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Sandhya, Roma and Remya Nambeesan. A fresh and out of the box narration in a hyperlink format.

After numerous years of qualitative crash, the fresh blood of Malayalam cinema is no longer seen as a second-grade anymore; with other new movies like Urumi (2011), Chaappa Kurish (2011), Adaminte Makan Abu  (2011), Salt N’ Pepper (2011), Beautiful (2011),Indian Rupee (2011),  Ee Adutha Kaalathu (2012), 22 Female Kottayam (2012). It is out of the ordinary to notice none of them featured either of the Giants.

Amid all due admiration to the Giants and closing our eyes to their latest stumble upon the box office, It’s time for us to award both the legends with a standing applause and farewell. They shall leave us with quite a few experimental films, a slew of ensemble cast films, and most notably several new directors and actors.

Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy… or they become legend.