'The Master Builder' is a classic play by Ibsen, which many feels has traits of his own character and life in it. Halvard Solness, the protagonist in the classic play is an architect who is egoistic and is a megalomaniac.
Though he is regarded as the best in the business, his sole aim in life is to achieve even more and he is tormented by the fear of being eclipsed by the younger lot.
One of the best things about Aakasha Gopuram is its premise. The play, first published in 1892, has been made contemporary and its basic theme finds relevance even now. The focus of the story is on a hugely successful architect, Albert Samson (Mohanlal), who is often ruthless in his nature.
He is unapologetic about his deeds where he has crushed the fate of even his mentor, Abraham (Bharat Gopi), as he climbed up towards more fame and fortune.
Albert's wife Alice (Sweta Menon) lives in distress with the memories of their dead kids.
She never really expresses her anguish but her feelings are often made known by their family doctor Isaac (Sreenivasan).
Albert is not too concerned about all these and he lives with the fear of being transcended by younger talents like Abraham's son Alex (Manoj K Jayan).
He even uses Alex's fiancée Catherine (Geetu Mohandas) for his own gains. But the rather unexpected entry of a young girl, Hilda Verghese (Nitya), changes the life of Albert forever.
With picture perfect locales, top notch technicians and even some inspiring performances, Aakasha Gopuram is never the run-of-the-mill Malayalam film, which you can enjoy with a soft drink and a pack of pop corn in your hands. It keeps an international flavour in its making.
The story delves deep into the mind of the protagonist and unravels the various emotions of the acclaimed architect with precision. The filmmaker's creativity is evident from the fact that a 19th century classic play has been successfully transposed to the present times.
The major problem with the narration is perhaps the dialogues that seem to suit the stage more than a movie. The fact that it has been adapted from a play is evident at several junctures as well. Still, the music, the visuals and Mohanlal's performance supplement to the totality of the film in a big way.
Mohanlal, as Albert Samson, is effortless and subtle while performing his role, which has a definite shade of grey. His mannerisms, body language and definitely the looks make him perfect as the complex character that he portrays.
Debutante Nitya makes her entry in an impressive role as the svelte Hilda. The lives and feelings of the rest of the cast have been played down generally, perhaps in tune with Albert's attitude.
Aakasha Gopuram is not the kind of film that happens so often in Malayalam. The film may appeal to the classes but lack of commercial elements definitely pulls it down.