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Padavettu

Farhad Dalal
By-
Farhad Dalal
Rating
4 Star popcorn reviewss

Introduction

Onto the next release of the weekend and it is another Malayalam film that makes its way to the OTT circuit. With that I finished watching the new Malayalam film Padavettu streaming on Netflix and starring one of my favourite actors Nivin Pauly. Now one of the reasons of me looking forward to this film was specifically because this was another political drama coming from the state of Kerala. I have developed an acquired taste for political dramas in general but the films are a rarity in this genre simply because it does become hard for makers to gauge on how deep to go with this subject. And to put it on record, Malayalam film industry is the only industry that happens to go all out with such dramas. This year itself we have had films like Pada and Kotthu that have aced this genre. That said, does Padavettu manage to impress, lets find out.

Story & Screenplay

Padavettu is the story of a layman belonging to an oppressed section of the society, who slowly comes to terms with the politics surrounding him. Now I have tried to keep the story as vague as possible but this is another example of vintage Malayalam cinema that is doing the rounds. And I say this with utmost respect to all the other film industries. This is because the story here is rather simple and a one-liner that almost has a single event as its conflict. But the screenplay standing at about a 140 minutes is layered and cerebral, deeply rooted and focused on the world building that makes for a flavourful and textured drama.

Speaking of the world building, you are introduced to the protagonist who is of the brooding type, almost disinterested in the world around him that features his mother staying with him under the same roof that is often leaking. The writing brilliantly takes this very incident and gives it a political touch. But before that you are given a glimpse of the village and the people residing in it. And you do get a sense that the people lack unity which is nicely explored through the political angle.

When we talk about politics, it isn’t restricted only to the main parties of the country. It resides at the grassroot level with local politicians vying to lure the people from the lowest granularity during elections, only to pave a path upwards. And so you would often seen them giving quick incentives to locals with the only issue being that there is a catch always. And that is what is so well explored here with the local politician fixing the roof of the protagonist without even allowing a chance to refuse only to give his name to the house, that forms the crux of the drama.

There are so many metaphors that are used within the screenplay. For instance, the entire subplot involving a boar spoiling the crops and injuring/killing people was drawing a parallel to the main plot wherein it was implied that the local politician is similar to a boar, often barging in the property that belongs to the locals. Meanwhile, we get to know through a series of flashbacks as to why the protagonist has ended up being his brooding self. After much provocation and with tension slowly building inside him, it is a spectacular scene involving the boar when all hell breaks loose!

The drama is unabashed and unapologetic in many ways. Some parts in the second hour will make you reminisce about the Tamil film Karnan which does also mean that this drama is deeply rooted. The ultimate revolt and the chain of events leading up to the eventual final act does make for a splendid viewing that is filled with an adrenaline rush! It most definitely charges you up thus summing up a screenplay that does keep simmering slowly until mayhem that ensues. In other words, a brilliantly penned screenplay!

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are cerebral and deeply rooted, and that does add the required texture to the drama. Here I must also say that the lines add authenticity to the area where the drama is set in. The music is good but the BGM is absolutely spectacular that heightens the drama at so many places. The cinematography is exceptional and beautifully captures the vibe of the area where the drama is set in. The action set pieces are grounded and never over the top! Director Liju Krishna does an outstanding job by firstly capturing the vibe of the area perfectly and secondly weaving an engrossing and engaging tale that is textured and flavourful throughout.

Performances

The performances are really good here. Aditi Balan as Shyma is good but her character doesn’t really get enough scope in the screenplay. Perhaps the entire love angle wasn’t required? Shine Tom Chacko is just everywhere and he is pretty good as Mohanan which is more of an extended cameo. Shammi Thilakan as Kuyyali is calculative and extremely understated. This is the USP of his character that he pulls off with aplomb. Nivin Pauly is one of my favourite actors at the moment simply because of the range the man posseses. Here as Ravi, he is phenomenal. It isn’t easy to portray a brooding personality onscreen simply because the performance would require to be that much more cerebral. But he pulls it off effectively only for his building tension to have an outburst at the end that had a totally different dimension to his character. This was a memorable outing by Nivin and another feather in his acting armoury.

Conclusion

Padavettu is a slow simmering yet provocative political drama that makes for a terrific watch. Available on Netflix and Highly Recommended!

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