The story as the title suggests, doesn't end with Katha Thudarunnu. This film is a touching meditation on those decisions that sometimes make and break your life, the process of moving on and looking forward to the end of that dark tunnel.
Life looks all perky for Vidya (Mamta Mohandas) with a doting husband Shanavas (Asif Ali) whom she has dared to live with despite objections from both their families, and a pretty daughter Laya (Anikha). When Shanu who goes out into a rainy night to buy mangoes for the kid never comes back, the mother and daughter are left stranded in the middle of nowhere.
I should say I have been pretty much disappointed with Sathyan Anthikkad's work of late, and have often vociferously stated as to how his films had started to revolve around shaky poles of conventionality. With Katha Thudarunnu, he charmingly reinvents himself and zips my mouth shut. This film marks the return of the director whom we had so much adored and affirms that all is not lost. At least not yet.
Sathyan deserves a standing ovation for not having stooped down before the customary requirements that emerge out of a story as this. He doesn't let the lead pair fall in love and make fools of themselves. Except for the odd song that lets them break into a quick jig, the film follows life rather than love. Preman does fall in love, but he's quick to realize that life has many more plans.
There is a rawness when it comes to the way Sathyan has thrown Vidya and her daughter into a pool of helplessness. He achieves this by cashing in on the young child who quickly learns to love the changing patterns of her life. As her mother sits puzzled on a park bench, having been thrown out by the house owner, little Laya dances around exclaiming as to how exciting it should be to sleep beneath the stars. She also vows not to divulge to her classmates the beauty tip that her mother has passed on; that of growing up to be the most beautiful woman by skipping the school bus and walking to school.
You would find those gleaming bits of social satire that Sathyan used to present us with in his early films once again in Katha Thudarunnu. I loved the HR supplier played by Mamukkoya who drives around with a lorry of men and women who keep changing their uniforms and colors in accordance with the meetings convened. Its not just politics, but religion too has gained some color. And what better way to express what's happening in the film industry itself when these men and women get ready to fill up an empty house and thus save an already failed film?
It's indeed amazing the way the sea keeps changing every time you remain gaping at the never ending expanse, lost in the lashing of the waves. Shortly after having suffered an immense loss, we see Vidya at the shore, and the waves look ruddy, pushing against each other and getting lost among themselves. And again the very final frame has Prem settling down on the beach, looking ahead at the unruffled waves that seem in no hurry; the sun having cast a sparkle all over them. He looks forward to a better tomorrow, his hopes flying high and the air almost bursting with optimism.
There would be those smirks about Vidya being dressed to perfection despite the odds that she finds herself battling against, or those colored curls that are painfully maintained even as she trudges ahead with a shrunken pot to get some water from the Corporation Water Supply. But when almost everything else falls into place, I guess we could let those clothes and curls go.
Mamta was real good in Passenger, and she's infinitely better in Katha Thudarunnu. Much of the emoting she does is with her eyes, and this should take her right to the forefront, and offer her a seat among the best actors we have today. Scoring high along with Mamta on the performance scale is Anikha, that charming little angel who is a true delight to watch. Jayaram makes a quiet arrival, and never intrudes into the story even for a moment. He is wonderfully in control of himself and delivers his part with elan. Lekshmipriya is back again after Bhagyadevatha, and comes up with yet another top notch performance in a supporting role.
The songs by Ilaiyraja, as much as they sound familiar, remain hummable, with 'Aaroo..' being my pick of the lot. Venu does a wonderful job with the camera as well.
For once, you can believe the promo tagline. Go on; spend this summer with this mom and daughter. Go on; smile awhile and shed a tear with them.