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Feb 25, 2008

Palunku

Palunku means crystal in Malayalam, the movie is the third offering from Blessy one of the much touted directors of contemporary Malayalam cinema. The wiki link for Blessy I've posted above makes me want to bang my head against the wall and question the basic concept of wikipedia letting no-namers no-experts(like myself) update crucial information about people, places and history. The link equates Blessy's talents with Padmarajan and Bharathan - the maestros of Malayalam cinema which is like saying moon could take the place of the sun if only it rose during the day. Blasphemous!

Anyway moving on with the movie, the central character Monichan, a high-range farmer who migrates to the city with his family is played by Mammootty. The film starts off in serene village settings, where in spite of the burgeoning odds against survival in the form of un-payable loans, schools without teachers, the world is still fresh and innocent. That is one thing I've against Blessy's interpretation of stories - the absence of grays. The idyllic scenarios like the 'golden past' or the 'unspoilt village' is juxtaposed against the 'dreadful present or the 'sinful city.' One has all the good qualities and the other has all the bad qualities and the characters invariably have to fit in to either of these settings and are devoid of any shade of gray.

Monichan's family of wife and two kids are living in a blissfully tranquil high-range village with cows, tailor-birds and chickens when the children's school run out of teachers. This forces the family to shift their base to the city which is like the hot-bed of evil. But the Monichan parivar is unaware of it, they remain largely innocent and wide-eyed except for Monichan who takes to the city like a fish to water. From there on he takes the worst route possible to making a living in the city. The story despite its shortcoming becomes more interesting in the second half.

Mammootty is a good choice for the role, atleast he is 'acting his age.' Blessy introduces Kannada actress Lakshmi Sharma as Monichan's wife,she's good too, so are the two little girls who play the roles of their kids. Jagathy has a very interesting part. The story is tighter in the second half. There are no diversions from the main theme and it progresses fluidly on to the ending, which although I didn't see it coming, was not a total surprise either. It was like the movie had to impart this message of poetic (or is it Biblical) sense of justice or there had to be a 'moral to the story'. Afterall you spent two plus hours watching the film, did you get to take home a message? That is what the current Malayalam film makers are aspiring to achieve, which makes their stories predictable as fairytales or nightmares - whichever is the flavor of the moment.

After the much hyped Kazhcha which fell flat on my face and the award winning farce of Thanmatra, Palunku is infact a winner. It looks like Blessy is getting better as a director and a script-writer, although he has a long way to go before he can be anywhere near his mentor - Padmarajan.

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