By: By Moviebuzz
Critic's Rating: 3/5
Friday 30 October 2009
Mammootty, Dileep, Suresh Gopi, Pritviraj, Jagathy, Salim Kumar
Kerala Caf? has ten directors at the helm, each of them making a film of their own on a single theme called yathra or journey.
Kerala Caf?, for your info, is in fact a modest tea stall at a railway station and certain characters from each of the films are somehow connected to it. It's a nice concept, perhaps inspired by movies like Paris, je t'aime for instance, but the best thing about it is that the directors have held it together with some excellent ones and some okay efforts.
Among the ten films, it is perhaps Anjali Menon's Happy Journey that stands out with its intelligent use of the allotted time. A heartening, simple tale has been well told by the director. The film is set inside a bus with an insurance surveyor (Jagathy Sreekumar) with a roving eye, trying to make advances on a pretty girl (Nithya Menon) sitting next to him. But she turns out to be really smart for the man to handle.
Director Anwar Rasheed's Bridge talks about two parallel tracks, the first one involving a young boy and his pet kitten. The other story has a son (Salim Kumar), who lives in poor surroundings, deciding to leave his ailing mother (Shanthadevi) in the street. With amazing technical brilliance, the director takes things to an altogether different level and stamps his presence quite effectively.
Makal, directed by Revathy, is about the flesh trade which is happening under the guise of adoption. Sona Nair and Sreenath have done the main roles. Some of its situations are predictable, yes, but it has its moments and that hugely works to the film's advantage.
Puram Kazhchakal, directed by Lal Jose, is based on C V Sreeraman's book and narrates a bus journey where people of different mindsets, purpose and nature go along for a while. Mammootty and Sreenivasan play the main characters in it. Mammootty looks quite subtle and different from his normal self and as it happens, surprises everyone with the final shot. We start a journey back from then on in our own minds and that is exactly what the film intends to convey.
The main attraction about director Uday Ananthan's Mrityunjayam could be its genre, horror. It has some mystery surrounding an old illam and despite the warnings of the tirumeni (Thilakan), a young journalist (Fahadh Faasil) comes there for an investigative story. Anoop Menon, Meera Nandan and Rima Kallingal are also part of the proceedings. There are some loose ends but here is a film that looks different from the rest and catches the viewers' attention quite easily.
Nostalgia, directed by M.Padmakumar and based on R Venugopal's poem Nattuvazhikal, zooms in on a typical NRI. Johny (Dileep) is all nostalgic about his motherland when he is in Dubai but once he reaches Kerala, he is an altogether different man, cribbing for virtually everything that comes his way and that sadly includes his parents as well. Navya Nair plays his wife. One gets the feeling that the director has gone for a conventional format to narrate the story here, without going for some cinematic experiments.
Debutant director Shankar Ramakrishnan's Island Express looks again at the real-life Perumon tragedy involving the train that happened in 1988, but still remains as a scar in the minds of every Malayali. Prithviraj, Jayasurya,Rahman, Maniyanpillai Raju and Sukumari include the film's cast. The story meanders along in some strange ways initially but the director manages to get his act together towards the end.
Shaji Kailas' Lalitham Hiranmayam is about the angst of a married man played by Suresh Gopi, who falls in love with another girl. Jyothirmayee does the role of his wife while Dhanya Mary is the other woman in question. This is a simple tale, narrated with a lot of style, in true Shaji Kailas style.
Shyamaprasad's Off Season has been made to be seen on a lighter vein and has Suraj Venjarammood in the lead, as a tourist guide in Kovalam. He reminisces about the tryst with a Portuguese couple, who had not much money with them to spend during a vacation. The film gives a lot of promise in the beginning, but things are not happening in a great way, from then on.
B Unnikrishnan's Aviramam is about a couple, played by Siddique and Swetha Menon, who loves each other so dearly. But their lives take a drastic turn after recession hits the existence of his IT Company pretty badly. Though it has been made pretty well, the problem with the story is that it looks pretentious at times.
With a motley mix of stories, Kerala Caf? manages to stitch them together as an absorbing watch. There are shortcomings but here is one experiment done with some honesty, which is to be seen there on the screen. Among the highlights of the film are its technical brilliance, music quality and not to forget, the pace that never really allows the viewer to take their attention anywhere else. If there is a price to be given for the best short film of the lot, Anjali Menon?s Happy Journey is undoubtedly the pick of the lot followed by Anwar Rasheed's Bridge
The performances too help the film immensely with some sincere acting from the veterans in the business and some of the young faces, like the pretty Nithya Menon, Fahadh Faasil and Rima Kallingal. Watch out for some spectacular moments with Salim Kumar and Shanthadevi in Bridge, Jagathy Sreekumar in Happy Journey, Mammootty and Sreenivasan in Puram Kazhchakal, Jyothirmayee in Lalitham Hiranmayam, Sona Nair in Makal and Suraj Venjarammood in Off Season among others.
Get some popcorn and head straight for Kerala Caf?, which incidentally has been conceived and anchored by director Ranjith. It is a new experiment and not an easy one to execute as well. But those involved in its making have done a nice job and needs a pat on their back for just that. Go for it and you may not regret the idea for sure.
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