It is still a Wednesday and my search for some good content is still underway this week. With that, I finished watching the new Malayalam film Chattambi which is now streaming on Amazon Prime. A part of the credit for these recommendations must go to members of my Digi-Family on Youtube(Channel Name : Popcorn Reviewss, Please Subscribe) for constantly feeding me with new films to be watched and reviewed.
Usually I am upbeat about watching and reviewing a Malayalam film. But as far as Chattambi goes, I was absolutely appalled by the shockingly low IMDB rating for the film. I wasn’t sure on whether I should invest my two hours in the film or just move on to the next content on my list. I tried to do a little research on the same and I came across an article involving a controversy surrounding the protagonist Sreenath Bhasi. Although I couldn’t quite get the gist of it, I did put two and two together while deciding to venture into the film Chattambi(still with a hint of apprehension). So then does Chattambi manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Chattambi follows the story of a man who is found murdered. The politics of the area along with the character dynamics over the course of the film would lead you to his murderer. The story here is raw and rugged that almost instantly reminded me of the Sriram Raghavan film Johnny Gaddaar which was one of my favourite neo-noir thrillers of recent times. The screenplay standing at almost 2 hours does make for an interesting watch which is typical of Malayalam cinema, something that acts as a slow poison.
First things first. The drama is a slow burn and told in a rather unique manner. It will take you a good while to settle into the drama and form opinions about the various characters. And honestly, I quite like if a drama makes me as a viewer, push an extra mile in understanding the politics of the drama. There is no spoon feeding and you need to be attentive throughout the running minutes of the drama.
The drama unfolds in a non-linear manner that makes for a textured and layered viewing. The premise might be similar to Johnny Gaddaar but its treatment is different. It almost seemed as if you are a character in the film with different characters breaking the fourth wall and telling you on what sort of a person the ‘murdered’ protagonist was. It did seem odd to begin with but slowly I was absorbed into the drama.
The proceedings are interesting and engrossing particularly after the series of flashback begins. So you begin from days before the actual event before making your way to the eventual event. Mind you, the drama does not unfold as a whodunnit. Instead, the focus is on the characters and character traits wherein the protagonist, who is absolutely unlikable by everyone, may have rubbed many people the wrong way. The undercurrent of the politics ans the power tussle between the locals and some foreign players in the vicinity adds to the drama. It is almost unassuming with the manner in which the drama does unfold with a hint of subtlety in the manner in which the equations change. The violent twist at the halfway mark does result in swords being drawn between the concerned parties.
There is a sense of the drama being consistently compelling as the second half does unfold. The little cat and mouse chase leading up to the eventual event was good to watch and witness. The drama did have texture and flavour to it, leading up to the final act that was not entirely shocking but an interesting study of the shift in power(represented beautifully on the dining table). My only criticism for the drama would be that if I had to take the non-linear part out of the equation, this was a simple revenge drama at the end of the day. But taking nothing away from the screenplay, the writing did demand your attention and did test your patience, making it a niche, yet the rewards at the end of it is rather worth it.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational but filled with many details about the shifting equations and character traits. And it does leave a mark! The BGM is subtle and doesn’t overpower the narrative. Instead, the ruggedness of the drama is kept intact. The cinematography is beautiful and captures the locations of the vicinity beautifully. The editing is good too. Director Abhilash S Kumar does a fabulous job in keeping the viewers invested in the world building and the ever shifting power tussle amidst the brewing politics of the area. I really enjoyed the direction here.
The performances are excellent here. Joji Mundakayam and Assif Yogi as Minnal have their moments to shine. Guru Somasundar as Muniyandi is such a joy to watch and he does a wonderful job. Mythili as Raji and Grace Antony as Cicily are outstanding and such vital cogs in the screenplay. Binu Pappu as Baby is earnest and sincere. Chemban Vinod as John is understated and absolutely brilliant to watch. Sreenath Bhasi as Kariah is fiery and does such a wonderful job. You won’t find much redemption in his character yet you might feel sorry for him at the end and that is a testimony of a fine performance.
Chattambi is a compelling and textured mystery drama which might be a slow burn but it makes for a wonderful watch. Available on Amazon Prime and Highly Recommended!