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Paka

Farhad Dalal
By-
Farhad Dalal
Rating
4 Star popcorn reviewss

Introduction

The weekend is still a day away but the new releases have started pouring in. And so lets get to them one by one. First up is the new Malayalam film Paka which had premiered on SonyLiv. On the recommendations of my subscribers, I have been watching and reviewing a lot of Malayalam films this week. But I was looking forward to watching Paka the most simply because of the name associated with it – Anurag Kashyap. Now because this is a Malayalam film, I would have watched it anyway but my excitement had surely doubled because of this. On reading a bit about the film I got to know that the film has been doing the rounds of various film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and so the film definitely had merit. And this is what I like about the OTT platform SonyLiv too – they have a good eye for content and have been consistently picking up films from film festivals. That said, is Paka worth your time, stay tuned.

Story & Screenplay

Paka is essentially a revenge drama between two warring families in a small village in North Kerala where a boy and a girl from each family fall for each other. Now if you are wondering if this is an adaptation of the Shakesperean play Romeo and Juliet, it is not quite that. This is a simmering and atmospheric revenge drama which is grounded in reality. The screenplay standing at barely 100 minutes means that the drama is crisp. But you do need to keep in mind that this is a slow burn and not your run on the mill kind of revenge drama. And this isn’t your Gangs Of Wasseypur either(although there is an element of Baap Ka Dada Ka Bhai Ka, Sabka Badla Lega Re Tera Phaijal).

The screenplay is a brilliantly crafted drama which is waiting to explode. But the explosion(if you can call it that) doesn’t really come. Instead, the drama consistently relies on the atmospherics. So the drama opens in a spine chilling fashion of a body being discovered on the river(Paka stands of River of Blood). And so the screenplay demands your immediate attention before it starts building the world around it.

Usually films under two hours trade characterization with the pace of the drama(something which I had earlier pointed out in the Malayalam film Keedam). But here the characters are so well fleshed out that without compromising on any aspect of the screenplay which was a brilliant thing to witness and study. The world building takes about 40 minutes where you do get a glimpse of the past between the two families yet fear for the couple. The leisurely paced screenplay allows you ample amount of time to soak in the atmosphere which is the main thing here.

As Mahatma Gandhi had said,  an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind! And so here we see that the revenge element is passed on through generations(Much Like Gangs Of Wasseypur) yet when someone wants to put an end to it, the egos take over and that person is bumped off. The twists and turns are subtle and at no point do you see the drama shifting gears. The element of violence is designed to amplify in your head. Which means it relies on sound and long shots which would create an image of the brutality(a la Raman Raghav 2.0). The film ends on a stirring note summing up a brilliantly penned screenplay which is atmospheric and always simmering.

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are conversational and an integral part of building the world of tension. The BGM is subtle and sparingly used, there are no loud renditions for any scene which keeps the tension intact. The cinematography is beautiful and captures some breathtaking shots in an aesthetic manner. Director Nithin Lukose did not have a very novel story in hand. But he makes this film his own with his treatment. The direction is brilliant here focusing more on the simmering tension rather than the actual revenge. And a simple premise with a layered screenplay is absolutely vintage stuff!

Performances

The performances are magnificent. Barring a few, this film comprises of many fresh faces which lend some authenticity to the drama. Abhilash Nair as Thankan and Jose Kizhakkkan as Kocheppu are excellent in their respective roles. Mariyakkutty as the grandmother(whose face isn’t shown) is capable of sending shivers down your spine just by her talks. Athul John as Paachi and Nithin George as Joey are brilliant and they do manage to create an impact. Vinitha Koshy as Anna has such expressive eyes and they convey most of what is going through her mind despite having very few dialogues at her disposal. And she has a terrific presence onscreen. Basil Paulose as Johnny is very endearing as the character who wants to put an end to things only to be pulled into this mess. He is quietly aggressive yet helpless in what is an excellent performance.

Conclusion

Paka is a brilliantly crafted simmering atmospheric drama which is absolutely worth your time. Available on SonyLiv and Highly Recommended!

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