Ranjith's Indian Rupee gets off to a slow start, but within no time zooms ahead, splendidly bursting out into a deadly final knock out. The details are downright gripping, the asides sparkling and the setups almost surreal, so much so that it hops straight into the year's must-see movies list and scrambles right up to the top.
JP aka Jayaprakash (Prithviraj) is a small time real estate dealer based in Kozhikode, who dreams of making it big some day. He believes that his fortunes are up for a change, when Achutha Menon (Thilakan), an old city dweller approaches him to sell off his land assets. The deal goes kaput, contrary to JP's expectations, but Menon stays back with him.
Ranjith's Kozhikodan landscape is a turbulent sea that is infested with ravenous sharks, and the likes of JP and his friend CH (Tini Tom) are the remoras that religiously follow them, feeding at the tidbits that are cast aside by the giants without a second thought. They know that as long as they don't get too big for their fins, and as long as they lucratively maintain their insignificance, they could stay safe in the massive shadows without any hassle.
It isn't an everyday milieu that you find in this Ranjith film, and a film that tells the story of real estate dealers would seem to make dreary film material. But its when the film itself transforms into a dots and crosses game, where the slate is scrubbed over and over again, that the excitement sets in.
Rarely does the film get didactic, and even then never for a moment lets us down with the life lessons. In a spectacular scene, Menon lambastes someone who obliquely demands a dowry, and exhorts the new generation to raise cudgels against it. The lure of quick money that casts an illusory veil over JP's eyes settles down eventually, and the lessons that he learns in the irreversible process will stay with him for ever.
And yet, what is surprising is that neither of the two leading characters in Indian Rupee is black or white. JP is a kind hearted man, who takes pity at Menon's plight, but not before he has tried every trick of the trade to strike an unfair deal with him to sell off his property. Menon too, is an epitome of righteousness, though not always. He does help JP wring out a few lakhs rupees from a w idow (Revathy), and that too, by the most warped way possible.
The mystery that surrounds Menon, is visibly retained through out, and even after Ranjith shines the torch light on the kind of man that he is, a whole lot of darkness remains. Religion, promises, affection, commitment, gains and losses, and life itself pass through those frail fingers, before he leaves the stage. One of the best characters to have emerged out of Renjith's pen, Menon is all that you hope to be and hope not to be as your life draws to a close.
The motif of the film, money, goes round and round in circles in the film, as it does in real life. Perhaps it might seem too small a world, when you see it traveling a full circle in no time, and returning to where it had commenced its journey. We know that that's the truth though, and even with the money out of the picture, are clever enough to discern that what goes around, comes around.
Prithviraj the actor, deserves a standing applause, and a thundering one at that for his performance in Indian Rupee. This is an actor who is like wet clay, and in the hands of the right potter, moulds itself into the most remarkable shape that one can think of. Easily one of the best performances ever in his career, Indian Rupee would as much be remembered for Prithviraj the actor, as the actor would be remembered for the film.
I wouldn't dare think of another actor as Achutha Menon, and Thilakan who goes at his rendition of the septuagenarian with a vengeance, makes us realize what we have been missing all along. Some actors simply do not have substitutes, and Thilakan is unquestionably one of them.
And what a spectacular song it is; the one that goes 'Ee Puzhayum' sung delightfully by Vijay Yesudas and composed by Shahbaz Aman. Thank you, Shahbaz for transferring us over to another world, albeit for a short while. S. Kumar's cinematography is gleaming as well, and preserves the zest of the film in all vivid detail.
Indian Rupee is a brightly scripted and constructed film that keeps you guessing till the very end. It is a passionate and provocative film, in which almost everything associated with it is first-rate.