Monday, May 21, 2012

‘Lucky’ Red Seed

Kids losing themselves to unrestrained abandon amidst the intoxicating countryside greens; an anguished farewell set against the never-ending ribbons of rain; a young girl stuffing the screams back to her throat, her stricken silence talking volumes of her inner turmoil - ‘Manjadikuru’ has many such brilliantly wrought moments that you simply can’t escape the emotional wallop. Anjali Menon’s debut film will create bouts of nostalgia and the storyline has many an element you can easily trace back to films like ‘Thingalazcha Nalla Divasam’. But, there is an irresistible charm in the flow of its narrative, a little laid-back but absolutely adorable.

‘Manjadikuru’, set in 1980s, is its protagonist’s nostalgic memoir - a documentation of the 16 days he spent at his ancestral home post his grandpa’s death. The film unreels the story of 10-year-old Vicky and the spontaneous bond he forges with his cousins and a 12-year-old servant girl. Their world, untarnished by the pollutants of adulthood, stands in stark contrast to the treasons of real world. Anjali sketches the immediacy and innocence of kids in an artless style, so simple and unalloyed that it looks almost obsolete. There are umpteen characters in the towering ‘tharavadu’, but they are not just aunties and uncles lost in the hustle of domestic hoo-has. Contrary to the initial impression, as the plot evolves, we find that each character has his or her own ghosts to fight. In the dark corridors of the mammoth house emotions get unleashed, confessions are made and sentiments feigned.

The highlight of the film is the heart-wrenching performance of the child artists, especially Sidharth and Vyjayanthi who played Vicky and Roja. While Urvashi is at her natural best, Murali as the Naxalite-turned-ascetic son and Jagathy as the insensitive husband with a quick-fire temper are simply brilliant. Bindu Panicker, Rahman, Praveena, Sreedevika, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Sagar Shiyas and Sindhu Menon - all the actors have done complete justice to their characters.

Prithviraj’s rich baritone is intoned and modulated in a nearly perfect style to gel with the story. Pietro Zuercher’s frames are vivid, enigmatic and completely in tune with the totality. Art and costume sections are carefully handled so that there are no striking anomalies. The theme music by Francois Gamaury is highly evocative, but the thiruvathira song in the second half looks more like an add-on.

‘Manjadikuru’ is a tale so simple, but solid enough to startle the kid and unsettle the adult in you.


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