It is the start of a long weekend but before that the team of Popcorn Reviewss wishes you Happy Rakshabandhan. Speaking of which, today marks the clash of the titans. It is Laal Singh Chadha vs Rakshabandhan today and I sincerely hope both films do well and bail Bollywood out of the crisis. And we will be covering both the films on Popcorn Reviewss. But before that there are plenty of other films which I am excited about. One of them is the Malayalam film Malayankunju which debuted on the OTT streaming giant Amazon Prime last night.
I was really looking forward to watching Malayankunju in theatres. Who wouldn’t wish to watch a Fahadh Faasil film on the Big Screen. However due to its limited release and even limited screens having English subtitles, I had to miss its theatrical run. Ever since I have been getting requests on my Youtube channel Popcorn Reviewss(Please Subscribe😊) to review this film. I had a close eye on the OTT release of Malayankunju which marks the return of Mahesh Narayanan(this time only in writing and cinematography) and Fahadh Faasil after Malik. The film did premiere on Amazon Prime last night. With that I finished watching Malayankunju, is it worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Malayankunju follows the story of an ill tempered protagonist who works as an electrician who repeatedly gets annoyed by the cries of the new born baby next door. What happens next? And this film again symbolizes my love for Malayalam films and the storytelling technique. It starts off as a simple story at one end of the spectrum but the screenplay just ensures that the film ends on the other end of the spectrum. Another case of a simple premise backed by a layered narrative, the screenplay standing at a shade under 2 hours means that the film is crisp and just doesn’t waste any time at all.
Another beauty of the Malayalam films is that they spend a considerable amount of time in building the world and not rushing into the conflict. What that does is that it acts as a solid foundation for the drama to follow. And it allows the viewers sufficient amount of time to.invest in the characters and form their own judgement about them. And Malayankunju is no different.
It starts off on a leisurely note where you do get a sense of the world around the protagonist and some of his traits. His ill tempered nature dates back to his bitter past even making him a casteist who continues to live his life without an iota of tolerance. This is perfectly represented by a scene where he flashes the torchlight in his neighbour’s home after a new born repeatedly cries throughout the night. What really impressed me was that the undercurrents of the conflict were already presence in the first half. Yet when you get to the eventual conflict, the entire sequence is so sudden and unassuming that it catches you off guard.
The second half marks one of the great displays of acting this year by Fahadh Faasil(and I will get to it in my “Performances” section). The writing does give out a beautiful message that once all are reduced in the soil, all are equal. And this very thought did resonate with me a lot. But the writing heavily hinges on a solid performance in the second hour which is claustrophobic and suffocating. It actually made me gasp for breath every now and then culminating into a bitter sweet final act where I did witness one of the great character arcs of recent times. Overall, the screenplay is layered and gritty and absolutely brilliant.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational yet quite poignant. The music by AR Rahman is good and so is the BGM. However, in the second half perhaps silence could have been used a little more instead of a few musical notes to really extract the rawness in the drama. The cinematography is outstanding and Mahesh Narayanan really needs to be applauded here particularly in the tense and suffocating second half. Director Sajimon Prabhakar does a stupendous job in outlining a world in this brilliantly gritty survival thriller. He does well in introducing certain social issues which are relevant making it a perfectly layered drama. The direction is excellent.
The performances are outstanding here. Arjun Ashokan as Deepu and Deepak Parambol as Sumesh have their moments to shine. Veterans like Jaffer Idukki and Indrans are absolutely firat rate. Rajisha Vijayan as Sandhya is excellent and the helplessness on her face is beautifully portrayed by her. Nilja K Baby as Shiny is pretty good too. But the show belongs to India’s best actor at the moment – Fahadh Faasil. If there ever was a doubt on how is Fahadh just the best, then just watch and study his performance in the film particularly in the second hour. One of the tough characters to pull off where the entire writing is dependent on a solid performance, Fahadh Faasil rises up to the challenge and comes up with a masterclass in acting. His bitterness coupled with the use of his eyes(oh my word!) or his subtle nuances only to portray fear in the second half along with pain in a brilliantly crafted character arc was a sight in itself. This is performance to cherish and savour – perhaps the best I have seen all year!
Malayankunju is a brilliantly gritty survival thriller backed by an acting masterclass by Fahadh Faasil. Available on Amazon Prime and Highly Recommended.