Wait was worth! For Malayalam cinema, it’s history in making – literally. The forgotten story of a prince, barely mentioned in our history books comes alive through the brilliant writing of MT, the majestic acting of Mammotty and direction of Hariharan. We hope that the producer recovers his investment.
The movie portrays some of the revolts which the Company collectively called the Pychy(Pazhassi/Cotiote) Revolts. These revolts were against the unscrupulous and commercial administration of the company. The siege and the loot of Pazhassi Kovilakom by the company threw Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja(Mammootty)and his wife into a life in exile. Pazhassi Rajah’s ability to mobilize Kurichyar (tribals) and Muslims against the company goes on in the background. Every scene is so meticulously shot and the flow so smooth that you would fail to realize that the movie is 200 minute long.We should be thankful to Venu and Ramanath Shetty for the gifting a visual treat. The battle scenes look stunning and captivates your eyes,ears and mind. Resul Pookkutty’s sound recording makes you ask if an SDM can get him an Oscar,what will he win for PR? 🙂
Mammootty does not portray a larger than life character but handles the character soberly,with finesse and perfection. More than Mammooty,I liked Sharat Kumar in the movie. He was very much apt for the role of Edachena Kungan,the army commander. His physique and histrionic skills leave him hand in glove with the role. It was his influence that brought in Thalakkal Chanthu(Leader of the Kurichyar tribe)(Manoj K Jayan)and the tribals into Pazhassi’s fold. The guerrilla war scenes involving Neeli(Padmapriya)(Chanthu’s fiancee), Thalakkal Chanthu are splendidly executed.
Leading a period film like Pazhassi Raja, on a vast canvas with numerous stars and supporting cast and technicians, might have been an extremely strenuous task; I suppose Pazhassi Raja might have required much more project management skills from director Hariharan than any other Malayalam movie made before. And he has to be appreciated for the end product. Frames of Pazhassi Raja are a beauty to watch. There is a scene in the film where we see the interior walls of a palace with beautiful murals painted on it (I guess they were made specially for the movie), and the sunlight reflecting from a small pond creating interesting patterns on the walls. The British have come to capture Pazhassi Raja from his palace, and we know the scene is not going to be a very peaceful one; but it is the beauty of the visuals that attracted my attention even in scenes like this. Hariharan, along with his art director and photographer, has taken great pains to make this visual splendor consistent throughout the movie. Another area to worth mention is the appearance and performances of all the lead actors. It was amazing to see Mammootty, who might be in his mid fifties, playing the main role and looking just like the warrior prince of our imagination, as if coming straight out of a painting in almost every scene.
Hariharan and MT Vasudevan Nair have proved their brilliance when they team up several times before and once again, they underline their eminence, with a genuine effort. The technical aspects like Ramanath Shetty’s cinematography, Ravi Dewan’s action, Resul Pookkutty’s sound and Sreekar Prasad’s editing have also succeeded in taking to a different level.
Yes, there are aspects which one feels could have been better,like Ilayaraja’s music but the film as a whole is good enough that makes us forget those flaws. Critics might say that the film has taken some cinematic liberties and in fact it does but on the whole it is engaging and entertaining.
Gems like these happen only once in a while and when it does, never give it a miss. Two big thumbs up for this masterpiece of our times!
M T Vasudevan Nair’s script has lots of cinematic moments that give scope to use Mamootty’s megastar image to good use as a person who uses the capability of people from different sections of society to fight the foreign intruders.
Pazhassi who has been termed as revolutionary by the British uses techniques of guerrilla warfare against them. For this he avails the expertise of tribals lead by Thalakkal Chanthu (Manoj K Jayan). There are other people also who unflinchingly support him like Edachena Kunkan (Sarath Kumar), who is his commander-in-chief.
This film is technically several notches above the standard fare offered in Malayalam cinema. It would not be an exaggeration if we say that it is comparable to the best in Indian cinema.
The camera work by Venu and Ramanath Shetty give the film a sleek look. The action sequences remind us of the internationally acclaimed Chinese martial art movies of recent times like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero.
Mamootty may be the hero of this film but, he does not hog the limelight. There is ample scope for other stars like Sarath Kumar and even Manoj K Jayan to exhibit their histrionic skills and use their star aura.
According to NowRunning.com:
Hariharan’s film is truly a masterpiece in that it has the manner, matter and mood of a monumental epic, in the finest sense of the word. This is no ordinary film that tells the story of a hero; rather, it’s a stellar celluloid piece that vividly recaptures every moment in history, never for a moment losing out on the human drama, never compromising on its immense scope or scale, never ever letting go of its elaborate craft and detail.
The film is full of invigorating battle sequences that literally involve a mammoth cast of hundreds and hundreds of people. Magnificently staged, they feel real, and mounted on a giant-scale entertainment canvas, this is perhaps the first time ever that a Malayalam film awes you on account of its visual brilliance. There are any number of spectacular sequences here that would surprise you on account of their visceral energy.
The PFC review says:
Mammootty proves that he is indeed a director’s delight. He plays the Raja, who is supposed be in his fifties, with such gait and maturity that we are astounded at the resourcefulness of this actor. There are very few moments where he gets emotionally disturbed, very few words he speaks. Strikingly different from what we expect out of such an actor, who delivers fireworks most of the time. That, in fact, is why we love this medium, isn’t it? When such creative geniuses turning the table, and setting their own terms of engagement with the audience. A shot where Pazhassi watches from atop a hill, far away from the site of the battle, as the British barricades fortress explodes in the midst of dense green forest. Yes, Mammootty, MT and Hariharan declare, this is our interpretation of Pazhassi, leave yours at home.
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