“This movie isn’t for everyone!” a line that I have used time and again and while it may sound like an easy bail for a movie that I’d enjoyed yet can’t recommend others, I can’t emphasize the line enough here for one of the best Malayalam movies this year. Munnariyippu starring Mammootty and Aparna Gopinath, isn’t going to turn a lot of heads or be discussed among the casual movie-goers. But it was able to etch its impressions in my head and invoke a multitude of emotions, from sheer helplessness to supreme fear, and ending in being haunted even after the credits had rolled in. If you find yourself as immersed as myself in this movie, you are warned and assured you will go through similar range of ires as well.
Veteran cinematographer turned director Venu’s second offering (since 1998’s Daya) Munnariyippu tells the story and life of C K Raghavan portrayed by Mammootty and how a meeting with him changes the life of an aspirational freelance journalist Anjali Arakkal played by Aparna Gopinath. Its extremely slow paced and yet I found myself intrigued with the titular characters. My first impression was that it was gonna go the usual artsy movie route and the ending would be something ironic yet hard to comprehend. As the movie progresses, every turn, even if they are less in number and minute in magnitude, will keep you guessing and try to make you foresee the ending. But its safe to say that predictability takes a backseat here and nothing would prepare you for the ending, not that the ending is what made the movie.
You’ll be able to say if this movie is for you or not from the titles itself. There was this line about Kafka that Prathap Pothens character utters in the movie. It was sheer coincidence that a movie had something about Kafka just a day after I’d finished reading one of his books. If you are familiar with the works of Kafka you’ll see the essence almost instantly here.
Bijibal’s haunting score is another gem in the crown. It was almost reminiscent of Mica Levi’s score from Under The Skin, and by reminiscence I meant the haunting goodness of it. Much like the movie even the score had equal tones of liberating calm and disturbing melancholy.
While others near me shrugged in their seats, muttering to themselves “When’ll this be over?” and “Why did I even come for this“, I was completely invested in this movie, thanks to the awe inspiring performances from Mammootty and Aparna. Mammootty was inexplicably terrific as C K Raghavan, having minimal lines and acting mostly through body language. This will be hailed as one of his most challenging and complex roles ever. Aparna Gopinath effortlessly slides into the shoes of Anjali and brings out the bold that we’ve usually seen her portray but at the same time we also get to see her charming and vulnerable sides as well.
Sharing what I’d exactly thought about the movie in itself would act as a super-spoiler and I wouldn’t want in the world to spoil this for you. I could easily tag this movie with a certain genre but then again that tag would be yet another spoiler. Sitting through till the end ain’t easy, but when you are sucked into the simple narrative complemented by tight direction, an enthralling script and sincere performances from both the leads, nothing else matters.