Onto the next release of the weekend and is it even a Friday if I haven’t reviewed a Malayalam film? With that I finished watching the new Malayalam film Pranaya Vilasam which is now streaming on Zee5. As always, a new Malayalam film in town does raise my hopes. The unique quality of their writing picking a slice of life story and backing it with a brilliant screenplay is one of the USPs of the Malayalam industry that has been churning out one great content after another.
There was a minor blemish last week when I had happened to watch the Malayalam film Maheshum Marutiyum on Amazon Prime. This film was in the same mould of a feel-good slice of life genre yet an eye-opener of how things could go drastically wrong if the screenplay isn’t eventful or sharp from the writing point of view. And while knowing nothing about Pranaya Vilasam, my only fear surrounding it was whether the writing would sail past my expectations from it(the genre of the film could be guessed through its poster). So then does Pranaya Vilasam manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Pranaya Vilasam follows the story featuring love across different age groups. And that is all you need to know about its story without having to encounter spoilers. And the story here is layered and quite heartfelt. I say layered because it starts off with a mix of stray incidents but by the end of it, the story makes so much more sense! So there is a paradigm shift in the tale at the halfway mark! The screenplay here standing at a shade under 2 hours does make for a compelling watch which would slowly tug the strings of your heart.
Like a typical Malayalam film template, this drama too has a good amount of world building. So you are introduced to the father and son duo who are shown to be romantics at heart. The concept of love is explored with a backdrop of patriarchy. So the men of this universe(in the first hour) are allowed to get attracted to their exes while the women are either ignoring the obvious or are just controlling their feelings. So the character traits here are nicely laid out where the father and son pay less importance to the character of the mother who is often taunted for watching the TV and ignored while having dinner even when she had chosen to wait for her son to have dinner together.
The proceedings are engrossing and interesting given the antics of the father-son duo with respect to their partners and exes. Yet, the mood of the drama does change when tragedy strikes one day leading up to the transformation of the two characters(but interestingly not in equal measures). And that could be attributed to a diary of one of the character that was obtained following the tragedy. The concept of valuing a person and taking that person for granted is nicely touched upon here. And that triggers a second hour which was just so beautifully written that the film not only fared better structurally but also tugged the strings of your heart!
The flashback in the second half did feature a beautiful and organic love story that did feel so heartfelt. The twists and turns in that tale may have been subtle but it did add a lot of substance to the drama. For instance, the political undertones in the flashback did have a huge role to play in the final outcome. The events leading up to the final act comprise of self introspection and realisation of how love goes beyond the boundaries of caste, creed or gender. The exploration of the concept is reflective through the different age groups and different timelines with the basic structure or concept being the same. The final act is layered and another progressive end from an industry which isn’t afraid of taking bold decisions. Overall, the screenplay is very well penned and makes for a spectacular watch.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are generally conversational and they make for a solid impact. The music is melodious and goes perfectly with the mood of the drama. The BGM is soothing and plays a perfect foil in enhancing the drama. The cinematography and editing are top notch. Director Nikhil Muraly does handle this sensitive subject in a rather delicate manner and that does make the drama very interesting and unique in terms of storytelling. Even the paradigm shift was gradual and handled just so well. The direction is top notch here.
The performances are really good here. Unnimaya Nalappadam is wonderful to watch as the house-help. She is just so well restrained in her character and in a way a catalyst in the screenplay. Hakim Shahjahan as Vinod is charming, fiery and does a swell job. Anaswara Rajan as Anusree looks pretty and has a sense of calmness to her performance in a job done brilliantly well. Sreedhanya as older Anusree is warm and her character shall make you emotional at one point. Manoj K U as Rajeevan is excellent in a character which is partly goofy with traces of patriarchy. Miya George as Meera does have her moments to shine and does a fabulous job. Mamitha Baiju is fantastic in a character that has traces of acceptance to her partner. Arjun Ashokan as Sooraj has the best character arc and his character ranges from being carefree and frivolous to sensitive and thoughtful, and Arjun absolutely nails his performance. He is just brilliant to watch.
Pranaya Vilasam is a heartwarming tale exploring the concept of love amongst different age groups that makes for a splendid watch. Available on Zee5 and Highly Recommended!