Archive for the ‘Simbly South’ Category

Kaaka Muttai – it’s a small film that’s winning hearts and making headlines. Thanks to the makers and distributors of the film, it has released with subtitles in Mumbai. Here’s a recco post of the same by @Navjot Gulati.


My favourite pizza topping is onion, capsicum, mushroom with extra cheese. For those people who are familiar with Delhi’s famous Nirula’s pizza, they would remember it as OCP. The pizza from Nirula’s remains my favourite but that’s only if it’s outside the home. The best pizza that i have ever eaten is the one which my mom used to make when we were kids. Me and my brother used to save up money for it by selling raddi (scrap). I’m talking about the days when making a pizza in the house was nothing less than an event, unlike today when its available everywhere, and at a cheap price. It was like you are eating something very important today. Back in the nineties, much before the Domino’s and Pizza Huts came to the country, Pizza was a luxury for every middle class household.  The movie Kakka Muttai made me time travel to that era.

It’s the story of two brothers who make money by selling coal that drops from the trains which passes through their slum area, and with that money they support their family. The kids like to call themselves Big crow egg and Small crow egg. The film centers around the story of these two kids struggling and trying all means to buy a pizza. The fact that two kids are struggling to buy a pizza worth Rs 300 even in 2015, tells us that not much has changed. Acche Din maybe here but only for the privileged ones like us who are reading this on a fast internet connection in the comfort of our air-conditioned homes. There is an India outside our internet which we seem to have forgotten. And films like these connect you humanely with lives and emotions that we don’t even realise. A strange guilt, a bit of happiness and a dip of nostalgia.

The movie pretty much sums up the state of this country through the eyes of these two slum kids – wanting to eat pizza from a new fancy shop which has come up in place of their playground where they used to drink yolk from the crow’s egg. It makes you wonder what our kids deserve more – playground or pizza shops? Long live consumerism.

And the kids are considerate enough to leave one for the crow. Yeah. Check. As i look back, it feels i was also considerate as a kid. Maybe all kids are. Adulthood spoilt me. Now i’m even mean sometimes. But aren’t we all then. And i hate that. Anyway, coming back to the movie. Though it starts with the struggle of these two trying to get and eat a pizz but then it becomes much more. It becomes about our society and how each person here is trying to use the situation to their advantage – be it the politician, the middleman, or the women from the slums protesting against what happened to the kids. These situations might read cliched on paper but the way director M. Manikandan has handled the scenes and his actors, it make you overlook that. The best thing about the film is that it never goes overboard trying to exploit your emotions. Lets face it. Two-poverty-stricken-kids-wants-a-pizza has a lot of scope for that as we have seen in many movies in the past.

I generally used to associate Tamil cinema with loud scape and over dramatic tones, but with Kaaka Muttai my perspective has got a paradigm shift. Next time someone recommends me a Tamil film, i won’t make a face but instead make the effort to give it a fair chance. A special mention to my friend Niren Bhatt (co-writer of the Gujrati smash hit BeYaar and the upcoming All is Well)  who insisted that i watch this movie at any cost. This post is nothing but me insisting all of you to give Kaaka Muttai a chance before it goes out of the cinemas.

Please go see this film. And this film recco comes from someone who is not a great fan of manipulative poverty porn. This one is not. It is much more. It is in-fact the Salaam Bombay of this generation. Don’t miss this gem. Go see it.

Navjot Gulati

(ps – If you watched and liked the movie, then do tell me which is your favourite scene. Mine is the one in which our Kaaka Muttais meet two rich kids outside City Centre)

Thanks to Bejoy Nambiar, we managed to catch Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Amen at a special screening in Mumbai. If you haven’t seen it yet, do watch it. ‘Great fun’ is the only way to describe this gem. Rarely is ‘fun’ attached with Godly stuff. But this one is a madcap ride, a strange collage of things which rarely come together so well.

Here’s a small recco post on the film by Amit Sharma – on the elements that made Amen such a great joyride.

643980_416614311763753_997719716_nWhy should you watch this Malayalam comedy, err, divine comedy?

To see the beautiful Kerala countryside, a village called Kumaramkary, the backwaters – colourful and idyllic in the day, and dark, lonely, mystical in the night. Eye-gasm in short.

Because it’s all around a Church and a toddy-shop, the former with its brooding, ominous, built-300-years-ago-and-may-fall-down-by-spring air, where the Reverend and sexton hatch their evil plots, and the latter with its regular haunt of drunk band-members asking for more pork and beef, and lamenting over their failures in music competitions. A strange mix.

For the totally over-the-top unapologetic humour, crafted as if the writers had no other concern in the world. Even the overlay text says things like ‘long ago in some random year xyz’. The wacky humour never leaves us, even zigzagging through the love story between the spunky Sosanna (Swathi Reddy) and the meek and unsure-of-himself Solomon (Fahadh Faasil). Girl bashing up goons with vessels, Solomon’s father’s spirit making sudden appearances in smoke-filled rooms complete with two winged angels, there’s no full stop in this crazy ride.

For the antics of the sexton Ousepp, and the menacing Reverend Father Ottapplakkan.

For Sosanna, who looks beautiful & enticing, and the scenes where Solomon serenades her with his clarinet below her window is stuff right out of Romeo & Juliet.

For Prashant Pillai’s fantastic music: the peppy title track, the mellifluous love song, the energetic clarinet duels, and the background score, all of it adding that much more to the film.

Because the film is also about a unique village band, which is on its way down after the tragic death of its star performer, and has lost all competitions ever since. You haven’t seen such a desi band story on screen.

Add to all this a music-loving young junior rockstar Reverend Vattolli, played by Indrajith, who decides to support all that is good, and oppose all that is bad in the village, and brings the band back to its glory by helping Solomon conquer his inner fears, and Bombay’s very own Makarand Deshpande, playing Chevalier Pothachan (don’t miss his hilarious entry) as the opponent in the final contest, and you’ve got an entertainer which is long, but doesn’t seem to be, and manages to make you laugh, and connects you with its emotions and music all the same.

In terms of the basic story idea and elements, there’s surely some similarity between Amen and Guca!, but the local flavours are so distinct that it completely stands out on its own.

Do watch.


And the makers of Ulidavaru Kandante (As Seen By The Rest) have been smart enough to release it with English subs. This comes out just when another Kannada film Lucia was making all the right noise. Click here to read a post on why it became a landmark Kannada film.

A friend also wrote to us and told us more about Ulidavaru Kandante (As Seen By The Rest) – This new Kannada movie looks like Tarantino movie with Rushomon twist.

“It is the first Kannada movie on sync sound, having 5 different stories that happens on Sri Krishna Janmastami day in Udupi, and it’s a story which happens in 1980s.”

Unlike 99% of the Kannada films, it’s set in coastal Karnataka. All the coastal region characters are used only as comic relief in the rest of the films. The trailer is bit long but do watch till the end.

The film is written and directed by debutant Rakshit Shetty, and stars Rakshit Shetty, Kishore, Achuth Kumar, Tara, Rishab Shetty, Sheetal Shetty, Yajna Shetty, Dinesh Mangaluru, B Suresha.

– To know more about the film, click here for its website, click here for its FB page and here is the Twitter feed.

Fox Star Studios India has recently acquired the Hindi-language remake rights of Pawan Kumar’s Kannada film “Lucia”.  He is going to direct the Hindi version too. Vijay Shankar Murthy tells us why you should watch it and how it has become a landmark film down South.


An inspired voice-over quotes legendary poet-musician Kanakadasa:

Nee Mayeyolago, Ninallu Maayavo

Nee Dehadolago, Ninallu Dehavo

Are you a creation of illusion or is  illusion a creation of you?

Are you inside a body or is the body inside of you?

A riveting sequence of opening credits later Pawan Kumar’s terrific psychological thriller “Lucia” opens its cards.

We learn there’s an investigation into a suspected murder attempt on Nikki aka Nikhil who is now on life support. A detective from Mumbai, Sanjay, is inserted into the investigation team much to the chagrin of the local cop. The cops and Sanjay dig deeper into Nikki’s life, stumbling upon a tale of substance abuse–involving a drug named “Lucia”.

Satish Neenasam as Nikki plays an unremarkable country bumpkin from small town Karnataka residing in a teeming metropolis that is Bangalore. He makes a modest living working as an usher (Torch Shiner) in his uncle’s old-style single screen theatre “tyaakies”. Nikki suffers from insomnia and on one fateful night comes into contact with a drug peddler who offers him a solution to his sleeping problems–the tablet “Lucia”. The peddler tells him not only will this tablet enable him to sleep well but also help him be whoever he wishes to be in his dreams.

Taking the plunge into Lucia, Nikki now ascends into his “dream” life. In this alternate reality Nikki is a hugely successful film superstar. Girls swoon over him. Directors and producers queue up to work with him. His manager is Uncle Shankaranna (same as the theater owner Uncle). Nikki’s demeanor suggests that despite the hordes around him, he is still a lonely man in search of something.  Enter model turned actress Shwetha (Sruthi Hariharan), who appears to be the cure-all. Still even in his dream he is plagued with problems and receives extortion threats.

In reality, mean time, Uncle Shankaranna is pressured by a local gangster to part with the Theatre  towards repaying his debt. Nikki realizes that one of the gangsters resembles a guy who shot him with rubber bullets in his dream. Nikki also meets Shwetha from his dreams in reality and begins a quest to win her heart.

Meanwhile in present day, we see the investigation appears to be gathering momentum as Private Detective Sanjay is convinced there is a connection between the attempt to murder Nikki and the drug “Lucia”.  Is it a drug-habit gone bad? Did Nikki stumble upon some secret plans of the drug peddler gang? Did he get lynched by the gang that threatened his uncle?

Writer-Director Pawan Kumar shifts between reality, alternate reality or dream life,  and the present day seamlessly with the lines blurring between what is real and not. The dream sequence is presented in black and white to differentiate itself. The love story between Nikki and Shwetha often acts as the theme that straddles reality and dream around which other events revolve. Kumar also peppers the narrative with other sub-plots intertwined with the goings-on.

An under-current of black humour through the film laments the state of the Kannada film industry. Superstar Nikki’s film is directed by a guy who speaks Tamil (likely that he is a Tamil industry reject) and a Rowdy-like Telugu speaking producer (Possibly not rich enough to produce Telugu movies and hence produces lower budget Kannada movies). An oily distributor tries to convince Uncle Shankaranna to screen Tamil and Telugu or even porn movies in his “Tyaakies” in order to make “Frofit” (Profit) as there are hardly any takers for Kannada movies.

In another sub-plot Shwetha tries to “refine” some of the bumpkinesque traits of Nikki, particularly his inability to speak English. She is particularly unimpressed by his pronunciation of “Theatre” (“Thetru”). This seems a reference to the divide between the English speaking “Cantonment”  Bangalore and the Kannada Speaking “old” Bangalore. The cooling glasses Superstar Nikki sports symbolize “coolth” which torch shining Nikki is not seen with.  It also seems a tool to hide the pain and the loneliness behind the glass veil .

When you look at the central theme of Lucia one can assume it is that of relationships, of love, of loss and the pain of losing love.  Looking at it from another perspective we can also proffer that it is the story of one man – Nikki. A third way of looking at it is that of a typical crime-thriller with a whodunit element.  What is particularly astonishing about Lucia is how seamlessly and organically it straddles these genres, stories and even copious quantities of philosophy but yet remains wonderfully accessible. It’s here where Lucia differentiates itself in a genre that is typically tricky. Above all, as Kumar announces at the beginning of the film—it’s a tribute to cinema—one that’s born out of love for the celluloid world.

All of the high-points of the film would have been rendered useless if it was not for the right people to have worked on this production. The actors playing the three central characters in the film—Nikki, Shwetha and Uncle Shankaranna are perfectly cast.  Satish Neenasam as Nikki does a sensational turn as the lead character. When the narrative juxtaposes reality and dream it chiefly aims to contrast the two Nikkis. In one scene Nikki is a blabbering country bumpkin while in the next he is a suave confident superstar who speaks little. Neenasam rightly plays the complex Nikki almost as if it were two different people. Whether it is getting the Mandya-dialect of Kannada right or the demeanor required of a reigning superstar, Neenasam is incredibly brilliant.  Special mention of how Neenasam’s looks are designed through the film.  It is as important as the performance itself.  This is the time of the Anti-Hero. With the emergence of the likes of Nawazuddin Siqqiqui, Vijay Setupathi etc Neenasam is a welcome addition to the club. It also proves what talent can do when provided the creative canvas. Sruthi Hariharan as Shwetha the model- filmstar/pizza-delivery girl is pitch perfect as well.  Though she doesn’t get the best of the lines she emotes superbly whether it is conveying the aura of the superstar or the pain of losing her love. Achyutha Kumar is effective and eminently likeable as Uncle Shankaranna.

Siddhartha Nuni’s cinematography wonderfully captures the director’s vision. Despite the number of scenes shot up close to the characters, the camera never feels intrusive or gimmicky. It aids us into the lives of its characters. The ecosystem of a typical Single Screen Theatre is captured  in vivid colors and with clinical precision by Nuni’s wavering lens. Poornachandra Tejaswi’s songs don’t always shine although in places it is memorable. The dry humour of the lyrics though is effective. Notice the “item” song that Nikki refuses to dance to but eventually does when the item girl, he realizes, is Shwetha. The background score sufficiently enhances the film.

Kannada movie moguls once upon a time in the distant past produced gems such as Minchina Ota, Manasa Sarovara, Bedara Kanappa, Ondanondu Kaaladalli etc. That was a golden period for Kannada cinema. It is however, highly unlikely that you will find a Kannada film in the recent past that succeeds like Lucia. The tacky 1989 thriller Idhu Saadhya (Meaning: This is possible) starring Anant Nag and Shankar Nag is perhaps a distant genre-cousin of Lucia in Kannada cinema. Additionally one cannot overlook some obvious similarities/references to Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky, but the co-incidences end with the theme and maybe a doffed hat here and there.

In an industry that more often than not receives hand-me-downs of the Telugu and Tamil films and where banalities are magnified further in the remakes, Lucia comes as a true breath of fresh air. The 90s had Sunil Kumar Desai who often attempted to move away from convention with movies such as Beladingala Baale (Lady in the Moonlight) but did not completely succeed in creating a distinct voice. Also inspirational and unheard of in the South Indian film industry is the concept of crowd-funding. Investments here still remain in the purview of the parochial minded where commerce, ego, hero etc usually trump over most things creative. It is not surprising that despite the backing of senior folks like Yograj Bhat, Lucia did not find takers in the Kannada movie industry. How could they if it wasn’t a remake of a “successful” Telugu/Tamil movie? Also incredible is that this movie was made on a budget of Rs.70 Lakhs. Kumar deserves unadulterated credit for standing his ground, for having conviction in his story, but most importantly— ultimately succeeding in delivering what he promised.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. It neatly sums up the film and the filmmaker’s journey.

All those who have loved Kannada movies of the 70s and 80s, watch Lucia RIGHT NOW. You will be proud of Kannada cinema again.  And yes, those who love cinema in general – two reasons for you to watch a Kannada movie a) It’s brilliantly subtitled (smart move by Kumar to broaden the audience base) and b) It’s a terrific movie.

(About the author – To pay his bills, Vijay Shankar Murthy works with what John Perkins calls “Evil Big Business”. In an alternate world, he would like that his bills are paid for, and all day he could watch Gangster flicks over and over again. In the middle of all this, he also aspires to be a writer some day.)


Paradesi is the latest film by Tamil filmmaker Bala. Click on the play button and see if you can figure out what is this “reality teaser”. And why would anyone cut a teaser like this? though am not sure if this is an official video or made by some fan. But it seems the crew members are sharing it on social media platforms, so putting it here.

If you don’t know much about Bala and Paradesi, click here to read about his latest film. Anurag Kashyap and Phantom Films are releasing the film nationally with English subtitles.

Click here to watch its theatrical trailer.

Tip – Chinu

It was suppose to be Vikram’s big bollywood debut. But what actually happened? Well, we all know the story. The general feedback was that the Tamil version was better than the Hindi one. In the Tamil version, Vikram played Beera, the same role which was played by Abhishek Bachchan in the Hindi version.  And a film buff cut a very cool video – put Vikram in double role. Watch the video.

And he has a cut a new trailer of the film in the same way

Among the many love-hate mails that we get everyday, only few stand out. This one came from an anonymous account. From someone who likes to call herself Mrs Mumble Kaur Iyer (Is she watching our films?). Or simply a Madrasan from North. And this madrasan seems to be angry. Or is she drunk? Are ‘madrasans‘ allowed to drink? Ok, leave everything, drop everything, and read on. Not everyday you get to read an angry madrasan’s open letter.

Ek Deewani Thi

Dear Sir,

First and foremost, I’ve been a fan of you since the Minnale/ RHTDM days. I confess that every guy in my college hostel used to swear by your film (before Pyaar ka Punchnama swept through like a Tsunami). This despite the chubby chubby R Madhavan and woody woody Sunsilk commercial Diya Mirza. Saif Ali Khan and the music was reason enough for me and my sahelis to swoon over. Many nights have been spent looping Bombay Jayshree’s Zara Zara (and not just Vaseeghara).

Mildly curious and true to my Tamil roots, I followed up on your films – the force-ful Kaakha Kaakha, “Raghavan Instinct” Vettayiadu Villayidu (which again had you revelling in the misogynistic torture sequences that Daniel Balaji unleashed on his victims), and Varnam Aaiyaram (firmly entrenched in Tam cinema love stories, where the hero is ALWAYS a stalker, and heroine is ALWAYS someone from North – Sameera Reddy’s last name is a technical detail I deign to ignore). And I don’t even want to talk about the trying too hard to shock Nadunisi Nayagal.

But my faith in you was reassured after watching the deeply personal and meta-filmy Vinaithandi Varuvaya. I was pleasantly surprised to find a guy next door falling in love with a girl next door. And NOTHING HAPPENING. The guy and the girl meet, there are problems, and like life, love doesn’t conquer. To be or not to Be. “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine”. What a pleasure to see Simbu behave “normally”, and the gorgeous Trisha, who surely was responsible for an increased sale of cotton printed saris at the Malai Mandir Pongal Fare.

Not to say that the film is without flaws (my mention of Cascablanca might have some film buffs snigger) but let that go for some other post. This post is not just about VTV (Translation – Will you cross the skies for me?)

This post is about every guy/girl from some small town in Bihar who are embarassed to see some fake “Bhaiyya lingo” mouthing character pass off as a Bihari/UP-ite (they’re very different I assure you) in a Hindi film.

About every Masters student studying in America, moon lighting as a McDonalds waiter to make ends meet, who sees that all NRIs lives in Hindi films are rose tinted.

About every girl who smokes a ciggerette and is offended at the potrayl of female smokers in Hindi films as either Powerful foul mouthed women or loose characters.

About every muslim who sees muslim characters in hindi films as either terrorists, or supporting character who has to give a kurbaan(i).

About every sardar who is almost always a Santa-Banta joke in a Hindi film.

About ….. you get the picture.

About why I will not watch Ek Deewana Tha having seen VTV. And I will go in true bullet point style like my compatriot Mr Rangan. I saw the trailer and was once again incensed.

At the evidence aplenty, that a nice Tamil picture has been massacred and gang raped – by the director himself.

  • By a Diya Mirza-ish Prateik Babbar, who CANNOT say a line properly. A guy who has serious diction issues, who has lost out on the naivete of Karthik.

“Mujhe lagta hai ki main tumse pyaar karta hoon”.

Oh Really, sir ? You expect me to believe you ?

Feel toh tum bhi karti ho par bolti nahi ho?”

Sir, pehle aap khud feel karke bolo na please.

  • By a firang bad actress again. (From the Kaifs, Fakhris to Sunny Leones – surely we have better actresses in India sir) who will hem, haw, pout, make faces, eat up her lines, and do anything and everything under the sun except look believable as Jessi.
  • It is telling that in the entire 2.21 min long trailer sir, there is not a single stay on either of your Romeo-Juliets. Not a single shot which lingers on them as they talk. All voice over. Or them mumbling the lines. As if they are scared their lies will be caught. Is it because you probably realised what fuck all actors they are on the edit ? That you made this wise decision ? That you will expect the audience to be drawn in, and inevitably feel cheated ? Is it a con that you are pulling off sir ? But why didn’t you notice that when you met them for the first time over that lovely Irish Coffee in Gloria Jeans? Because you were too desperate to make that film that you ignored you had to make it?
  • By another legend Javed Akhtar, who matches the poetry of the original songs with as much sincerity as he did while writing songs for Jeans. The effect is in the same ball park as a PK Mishra (“Ungli jaisi dubli ko nahi chahiye Pharmacy). How I missed Mehboob-ARR combo (Kehna hi kya, Rangeela). And, no, even a Gulzar has written a meter-less “Hansti rahe tu hansti rahe … Geeli geeli hansi” and killed Vairamuthu’s classic Pachchai Nirame. Sometimes I really wonder what happens to lyricists when they remake a superb tamil song ?

“Dost hai hum toh yeh bahana kyun ? Pyaar hai humko yeh chupana kyun?”

Seriously, sir ? Is there not a single hindi speaking AD you hired to make sure these “greats” got away with such expositional shit ? And to think Javed Akhtar criticized Kolaveri Di? A song which has more heart than surely the whole album of Ek Deewana Tha.

  • And heck heck heck. How they have raped the gem of a song called Aaromale (Click here for the full song with English lyrics)

Shubh Shubh ghadhi subah lagan…Som som hai tera darpan.. ..Shubh shubh sajni ka jeevan

WOW. Sir issey achcha toh original mallu lyrics hi daal dete. Jaisa “Maangalyam” mein already kiya tha. I thought the the word “sajni” should have been retired from hindy lyricsdom after the brilliant Ae Sajni from Hazaroon Khwashein Aisi.

  • Carter Road and Kozhikode alone don’t make an authentic film sir.
  • Did K Balachander’s open letter to you after watching the tamil version spur you to make your own version of Ek Duje ke liye. At least that film had an Agnihotri and a Kamal Hassan sir. Yours ?
  • Which is why nobody, nobody raises a finger on a poorly dubbed film like Roja in which the village is apparently set somewhere in UP. Because the performances are so effing engrossing, that we ignore the Baba Sehgalisms like “Chachi tujhe pyaar se chedha hoga chacha ne“.

And that is why I will not watch Ek Deewana Tha. Because it will embarass me as much as a Humse Hai Mukabla did. Waiting for your next and praying it doesn’t look like a bastardised “madrasi” film in hindi.

(P.S – The whole film with English Subs is on youtube here. Please do yourself a favour and watch it before you do plan to catch Ek Deewana Tha.

(P.P.S – Who is Mrs Mumble Kaur Iyer, you ask ? A. Doesn’t matter. Just a “madrasan” from the North of India.)

If you haven’t heard this song yet, you are missing the latest viral hit. Blogosphere is buzzing with this song. The song is from a movie called 3, written and sung by Dhanush and has been composed by Anniruddh. To know more about the song, click here and here.

But first, click on the play button and enjoy. As they say, a good viral has no barriers.

Zimbly zouth remakes are not going to die anytime soon. First came the action movies, and now we are remaking the romantic films.

So here it is – the first look of Gautham Menon’s Ek Deewana Tha. The film stars Prateik, Amy Jackson and is remake of Menon’s own film Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. Best part – music by A R Rahman. Loved the musical bits in the trailer.

But a perfect love story…a perfect romance? Huh!

Most of us haven’t. If you don’t have any respect for Oscar, and surely there are many valid reasons for that, then you don’t need to worry about the film Adaminte Makan Abu. It also won four National Awards and it made us curious because Oscar or not, a good film is a good film. So we asked our good ol’ Mallu friend Prasanth Vijay to write a review post for us. Read on…

Abur Sansar

As it happens once in a while in Indian cinema, Davids come out of nowhere and walk over the Goliaths. The latest in line being Adaminte Makan Abu (Abu, Son of Adam) which has become the country’s official entry for Oscar this year. Majority in Kerala, except a few of us who had been following the reports of its making, had a similar shock when the National awards were announced a couple of months ago and Abu won four major awards. It was a natural extension to see the film winning another four at the state awards a few days later (though many argue that this wouldn’t have happened without the National awards win). On hindsight, none of this is too hard to understand because parallel cinema in India is always forced to remain under a veil until a saviour comes along and salvages it (though sadly for many, this never happens).

Adaminte Makan Abu is about an old Muslim couple whose greatest dream in life is to attend Hajj pilgrimage. Over many years, they scrimp and save small sums for this out of their modest living. Things begin to fall in place, and they start preparing for the pilgrimage when calamity strikes in an unforeseen way and they are almost back to square one. Around the protagonists is the rustic panorama of a Kerala village (now a highly endangered entity) and its inhabitants who touch on their lives constantly. The towering achievement of the creators of the movie is turning this seemingly clichéd and possibly melodramatic synopsis into a well-crafted film which culminates in a much higher level of composure and optimism. And for the record, it’s certainly NOT poverty porn. It is about hope, and about a virtuous Abu who moves us to tears by the goodness of his character, rather than by his trials and tribulations.

Abu, a street medicine and perfume vendor is a staunch believer in his religion. And religion serves its true purpose here, making Abu a great human being who is at one with all of nature, not just the humans in it. He accepts that the purity of the means he takes up is as or even more important than the end. He doesn’t have to mull over even a little to resist temptations, however harmless they seem. There is a Malayalam verse which defines ‘courageous’ as the one whose mind doesn’t flicker the slightest even when there are strong reasons. Amidst heroes whose morals stoop when pressed by circumstances, Abu’s frail figure looms above them as the bravest of recent times, though too insignificant to matter to anyone else. True, it is a nearly fanatic faith in his religion that backs him, but with his clarity he touches the essence of it which is nothing but love and goodness, even if it’s unrequited.

Salim Ahamed, the writer- director of the film was as unknown as the film till the National awards. The creative mastery and the maturity of craft of the debutant are commendable. The artistic honesty he has brought into each frame is what has saved the film from falling into the possible traps of cliché and melodrama. It’s well detailed- from elaborately showing the preparations of Hajj pilgrims (which prompted naysayers to call it an extended travel agency ad) to the passing scenes of the wife smelling a lemon to fend off nausea during bus rides. Salim also deserves credit for extracting what he wanted from a seasoned crew- from ace Madhu Ambat wielding a digital camera for the first time to magical musician Issac Thomas Kottukapally creating music out of silences and Pattanam Rasheed for whom adding a few decades to a person’s face is never a big deal. The cast also has prominent artists even in minor roles so that they stay etched in our minds. Zarina Wahab becomes Ayeshumma as effortlessly as she dons her prayer robe.

It’s unjust to a film or any work of art to say that one element of it rises above the rest. But Salim Kumar, playing Abu stands out here because of his inseparability from the film. An accomplishment which is likely to be widely overlooked by viewers outside the home state is the unparalleled makeover he has undergone to become the character. Salim who has received popularity among masses and occasional brickbats from critics for his slapstick roles (which were by no means easy feats!), has proved the versatile actor in him whenever given a chance- in Achanurangatha Veedu (2006) and Bridge (segment in the anthology film Kerala Cafe). He lives as Abu the way no other actor in the world could have.

Adaminte Makan Abu is undoubtedly a lucky film – right from its conception to its reception. It might not be “the best” of its times, but it surely deserves most of the accolades it has already been honoured with. It may be considered as the prize for the honesty and sincerity that went into its making. In an industry that churns out either insignificant trash or over-hyped pseudo classics, this noble film marks itself by its restraint and lucidity. It’s another instance of many right things happening together towards a greater goal. Where mediocrity is celebrated and excellence is even denied birth, it’s not enough that we have visionary and resourceful film-makers. They should also have the blessing of fortune shining on them to materialise their dreams. May their tribe increase!