(This post is written by Raj Menon, who is a journalist with Indian Express. )
THE first thing that struck me about Santosh Sivan’s Urumi is its simplicity. Okay, so it reportedly cost around Rs 20 crore to make. Sure,the frames are rich, the sets lavish and the canvas grand. But Urumi is ,at its core, a simple tale of valor. It speaks of wronged men and womenwho were desirous of revenge and justice and refused to go quietly though pitted against a powerful adversary (Vasco Da Gama, shown as a ruthless, mercenary invader as opposed to the celebrated explorer). The dialogue is sharp and unabashedly patriotic: Aa kuttikalude kannukalil Vasco kandu…mola pottunna oru shathruvine…abhimaanam adiyaravu vekkatha orujanata ye (In the eyes of those children, Vasco saw a budding enemy, apeople unwilling to grovel). There is no inessential glorification of the protagonist, Kelu Nayanar (Prithviraj). He is portrayed as a bold warrior out to avenge his father’s death, reacting to his circumstances and mobilising his people.
The characters are introduced quickly, without ceremony. And before you know it, you’re drawn into the narrative. I meant to watch the first 15 minutes or so before I stepped out for a coke. It was a full 50minutes before I reluctantly left my seat. That said, the makers have over done the whole disclaimer bit at the very onset: That this is ‘only a movie’ is repeated once too often. Now, wouldn’t you rather be led to believe you’re *not *watching a film but seeing a slice of life unfold onscreen? Oh well. Can’t really blame them for wanting to avoid lawsuits.
Deepak Dev’s compositions are above average. Watch out for Prabhu Deva’s dance scene with the soulful Thelu thele playing in the background. It has a serene, trance-like quality. Full marks to the creators for not allowing the viewer to think, “Oh, just because he’s a dancing sensation anda reputed choreographer!”
Then there are the beautiful women. Nithya Menon looks bewitching in Chimmi Chimmi. Genelia D’Souza is aptly cast as the fiesty Arrackal Ayesha, who can wield the urumi as effectively as the warrior hero. Tabu makes aspecial appearance (song) while Vidya Balan has a blink-and-miss part.
Prithviraj proves yet again that he can carry off roles that his contemporaries in Malayalam cinema would be laughed at in. Amol Gupte is arevelation as the gullible, good-at-heart but ill-advised king. Not even ina single scene do you feel he’s out of place in a Malayalam mileau. Such talent! A superb Jagathy Sreekumar (as the canny, conniving, polyglot minister, Cheni Cheri Kurup) gives a whole new definition to the epiphet veteran actor and there is a refreshing turn by Prabhu Deva (as the immensely likeable Vavvaali: Caring, witty, naive, ever mindful of being righteous).
Never mind the historical inaccuracies, they’re bound to be there! Those who whine cannot conclusively prove or disprove their theories. What are they going to do, go back in time? And as Robert the Bruce narrates in Braveheart: “Historians will tell you I’m a liar. But history is written by those who have hanged heroes.” The beautiful visuals, well-executed fight scenes and the vibrant performances make Urumi a compelling watch. Two thumbs-up.
PS: I don’t care much for the English title, though. The Coiled Sword has a nice ring to it, no?