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Jun 1, 2018

Basil Joseph's Godha

Basil Joseph deserves a special pat on the back for reigning in the irresistible urge to recruit Mallu Singhs to play Sardarjis in Godha. Half of the movie is set in Punjab, a place teeming with Sardars, a generous world full of possibilities for Malayalis to release their inner Santa-Banta by wearing turbans and beard-nets. The temptation could have been enormous. But Basil didn’t budge, authenticity being one of the admirable qualities of this movie. So much so that he even recruited a real Punjabi kudi, not from Gurgaon or Goregaon but from the Punjabi metropolis designed by a French man (read classy), Chandigarh (balle~ balle~)

Godha is a light-hearted tale of wrestling families – one from Kerala and the other from Punjab. In 2010s wrestling or contact martial arts theme have been the new favorite of Indian movie makers for sports inspired movies. Dangal, being the most well-known of the lot. Sultan, Mary Kom, Irudhi Suttru (Tamil) / Saala Khadoos in Hindi are some others in this category. Most of them also had stories focused on female athletes.

In Godha, we have the Wamiqa Gabi playing the Punjabi wrestler Aditi Singh counter balanced by Tovino Thomas’s reluctant wrestler/aspiring cricketer as the beautiful idiot, Anjaneya Das B.Tech. The casting is superb, from Aditi’s Punjabi clansmen to Anjaneya’s Tamilian classmate – Pandi and beyond.

Renji Panicker is an indispensable element for all Malayalam sports movies these days. It could be because we really have a dearth of modern day fayalwans (pehalwan – Hindi, body builder -English) in Malayalam movie industry. Panicker’s seniority means his role will be that of a coach or a mentor, while appearing more buff than the main character who plays the hero/sports star. We can’t blame Renji Panicker if the younger heroes have no respect for six packs. Parvathy as the mother of the hero is another example of great casting.

Godha is like the perfect beef curry (this recipe is described in the movie – a meme-worthy scene, one that will be often quoted and re-quoted in the years to come), simple with few essential ingredients in  right quantities, blended in, to create the final product. It recognizes cricket – a game synonymous with sports (of any kind) in India and creates humor contrasting it with the not-so glamorous wrestling. Then it injects wrestling talk into communist party-office sermons, another common entertainment activity prevalent in central and North Kerala. There is also the guy meets girl track, their quests for glory and all of these playing out to the uplifting tunes by Shan Rahman. Light, natural and entertaining.