Perhaps it requires a real gutsy director at the helm of affairs to craft a movie as 'Melvilasam'. Above everything else, Madhav Ramdasan's debut film is strappingly based on his clear convictions as a filmmaker, and on an unflinching sense of cinema that refuses to bow down before commercial coercions.
The film concerns itself with the court martial proceedings of Sawar Ramachandran (Parthiban), who has been accused of killing Capt. Verma and attempting to kill Capt. Kapoor (Krishnakumar), while on guard duty. Prosecutor Capt. Ajay Suri (Nizhalkal Ravi) has every intention to set the noose hanging and ready for Ramachandran, but defense counsel Capt. Vikas Roy (Suresh Gopi) would like to lay bare the truth before the jury first.
With Ramachandran himself having admitted to the murder, the film it should be remembered, is likely to suffer from a lack of suspense that would have made it a thrilling whodunit. On the contrary, the focus of the film is on the motive. And as the 'hunter of the soul', Capt. Vikas Roy is quick to draw our attention to the irresistible drive in the accused, that made him commit manslaughter.
'Melvilasam' is a film that has been shot entirely indoors, and makes use of a remarkable background score and some clever audiography to drive in the narrative, in perhaps a much better fashion, than could be achieved outdoors. It's a film that has been shot almost in real time, and hence the challenges that it faces are multifold.
I wouldn't say this is an experiment in film making as such, since there have been similar experiments in cinema even before. Rather, it's a reflection of the staunch belief that a film maker has on his script. Madhav has no doubts about the authority of the carefully crafted script, ( based on Surya Krishnamurthi's celebrated play by the same name), and therefore self-assuredly launches himself to its execution on screen. In the process, he deals with human issues as diverse as condescension, integrity, empathy, legitimacy and above everything else, humanity itself.
The script, which is a solid one, is the real hero of 'Melvilasam'. There are a couple of occasions when you feel, that the transformation over from the stage to the screen isnot in itself complete. On a few instances, melodrama seems to creep in as well. But all this could be quite conveniently forgiven in this remarkable film that does, what it sets out to do.
The casting in 'Melvilasam' is almost perfect, and Suresh Gopi is finally back in a role that demands the actor in him. There is no way in which you wouldn't be bowled over by Thalaivasal Vijay's performance, and as the no-nonsense presiding officer of the jury, he is quite imposing. Krishnakumar, who is probably one of the most under used character actors that we have had, proves with his portrayal of Capt. B D Kapoor, that the industry has been truly unjust to him. Also, who could forget the restrained acting of Parthiban, as well as Ashokan as the highly pompous Dr. Gupta? And the man who truly looks and acts the army man among the lot is none other than Sanjay as Lt. Col. Brajrendra Rawat.
'Melvilasam' is a film that takes a very honest look at life, through a well written script that has been double checked for possible leaks and creaks. It displays a fine sensibility in whatever it has to say, and peppered all over with real enthusiastic performances, this film is a must-watch this summer.