What The F**k did I just watch? Lijo Jose Pellissery! The name is enough to evoke an interest for a film. The man behind gems like Ee.Ma.Yau, Angamaly Diaries and the breakthrough Jallikattu that was India’s official entry to the Academy Awards, the man has slowly started cultivating a loyal fan base. His movies generally define life and death and after life, and are often known to make an impact through symbolism. So when his new movie was announced, naturally I was excited. And finally the movie has premiered on SonyLiv and I have finished watching Churuli. And these are my two cents on it.
Story & Screenplay
Churuli that translates into a spiral, follows the story of two undercover police officers that venture into a mysterious jungle to nab a criminal. And that is all you need to know before you venture into this maze. The story might seem a routine one on the face of it but it is extremely convoluted. It was as if the makers had designed this maze for the audience to go around in circles. There are clues that you may find along the way, but they convolute the plot even further. The screenplay is designed such that you need to be attentive right from the first scene. Every single detail needs to be absorbed and noted attentively. What starts off as a usual premise soon has a major plot point featuring a bridge post which the loop begins. There are several inexplicable scenes where you will find it tough to keep pace with the narrative. But the beauty lies in not understanding several plot points, the screenplay is designed to make you feel that unending labyrinth which the characters are undergoing as well. This ends in a final act that will make your jaws drop with a feeling that resembles ‘WTF’. An astonishing screenplay that will bend your mind to such an extent that you will continue to decipher the film long after it has ended. Bloody Brilliant!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are a combination of bizarre and poignant but every dialogue has an embedded clue and almost demands you to be attentive. The BGM beautifully crafts the mystery surrounding the drama. The cinematography captures the fog and the forest that symbolises the state of mind of the characters and the audience. The sound design oscillates between some bizarre noises to silences that will definitely bend your mind. Director Lijo Jose Pellissery is a master of symbolism and he puts it to great use here. The atnosphere of mystery and horror that he creates is terrific to witness. I have been a huge fan of his work and it is so refreshing to see him try different things within the spectrum of cinema. This is a piece that may not find its audience instantly but over the years I see people discussing various theories around this film thereby making it a cult.
The performances are top notch. There are charming cameos by Joju George as Geevar and Soubin Shahir as Valliyam who add to the mystery towards the end. Jaffar Idukki as Menonkunju is brilliant and love the way he teases the audience with his expressions. Geethi Sangeetha is terrifyingly brilliant here. The two main protagonists are outstanding. Chemban Vinod Jose as Anthony delivers a pitch perfect performance. And an actor who is fast turning out to be my favourite is Vinay Forrt. As Shajivan, he epitomizes a young officer who may not trust his senior entirely but at the same time, he plays with your mind too with a few bizarre acts. He is absolutely brilliant here and I wish to watch more of him going forward.
Churuli is a twisty and brilliant mind bender and will leave you enchanted by forcing you to spural around in circles. Available on SonyLiv and Highly Recommended.