Arun Kumar Aravind's 'Ee Adutha Kaalathu' dabbles further with the multi-pronged approach in cinema, and armed with an undeniable power, courtesy Murali Gopy's forceful story telling, does the unthinkable - to keep you absorbed for a long, long running time of about three hours!
A marriage is on the rocks in one of the most flourishing suburbs in the city, and both Ajay Kurien (Murali Gopy) and his wife Madhuri (Tanushree Ghosh) have finally realized that there is nothing much that they can do about it. Far away, under a thatched rented house that threatens to topple down any moment, Vishnu (Indrajith), his wife Remani (Mythili) and their two kids make do with whatever little they have.
The Commissioner of Police, Tom Cherian (Anoop Menon) lives in constant dread of being made a laughing stock by the public, since a serial killer is on the loose, and the police department hasn't been able to do anything about it. His journalist girlfriend Rupa (Lena) has had it up to the hilt with the yellow press having a field time proclaiming the details of their clandestine romance, and keeps coercing Tommy to tie her the knot.
Multiple narratives have almost become overused in the world of cinema in general, and yet if it works extraordinarily well in 'Ee Adutha Kaalathu', it's because there are no deliberate efforts to link them together. Here, it's just that these characters hurriedly move about on the uneven landscape that carries them, and every now and then cross paths, sometimes to return and sometimes never to see each other again.
The subtlety with which the narrative dwells on some very significant issues that lie all around is highly appreciable. The waste dump where a human corpse gets dumped is more than a garbage ground; there are living, suffering human beings outside it, unaware of the rotting corpse that lies within, but fully conscious of an environmental hazard that had started to eat away their lives from outside and from deep inside. The almost uncontrollable influx of the immigrant workers from all over the North East has over the last few years emerged as a matter of grave concern, and the silhouettes of scores of those unknown faces walking towards you at a building site generates an uneasy reminder.
Almost all the characters in the film do merit a detailed assessment, whether it be the overtly written part of the corporate giant Ajay Kurien, reeling under a severe psychological trauma or the relatively shorter role of the domestic help (Krishna Prabha) who happens to be a compulsive liar. What's most appealing about the way these men and women are portrayed on the screen is their torch light visibility; never revealing all at once and gradually throwing light all over, as you turn the beam this way and that.
Take for instance Madhuri who is forced to live with a past that smells of crushed dreams, wrong choices and plenty of miserable bitterness. Her husband makes himself feel alive, by making her realize what a worthless piece of crap she has ultimately turned out into. Sex is perhaps the last thing on the woman's mind when she finally decides to meet up with Rustam (Nishan), who murmurs his fascination for her, incoherently over the phone.
It's ironic that the most shocking moments in the film are also the most hilarious. One needs to see the way Rustam's plans at seducing Madhuri go haywire to see what I'm actually talking about. When you see where Watson (Baiju), a local thug with a crotch bite inadvertently ends up while on his hunt to find some fresh flesh, you realize with a smile how transient everything is. And that too with all the blood splattering the screen!
Perhaps the suggestion is that it has all been already written. The maxims of a happy living are available all around in abundance, but very rarely does one take note. The heartening verses beside a church that have been painted in white and blue, seem all reassuring to Vishnu as he walks back home after a ghastly night. Rupa, about to commit an unforgivable act of treachery refrains from doing so at the last moment, as the camera pans over a copy of Tami Hoag's 'Secrets to the Grave' adorning her book shelf. You even see Ajay frantically leafing through Rhonda Byrne's 'The Secret', hoping to see daylight at the end of the tunnel someday.
What makes all these characters extremely special is that they are individuals totally lost in gloomy worlds of their own. Rights and wrongs have disappeared beyond the darkness, there are just sinister shadows that have taken their place. Wielding swords against each other and against themselves, they battle it out day and night in a frenzied combat for survival before they eventually drop down, dead exhausted.
I would admit I'm all bowled over by the awesome performances in the film, that it's almost impossible to pick out a best from the lot. Murali Gopy's firebrand performance could easily boast of an ease of delivery and attention to minute details that's almost reminiscent of Boman Irani and his numerous incredible feats on screen. Indrajith is no far behind, and his highly uncharacteristic dialogue delivery together with an emotive performance ensures that the results are top notch.
Mythili seems to be getting better and better with each film, and in 'Ee Adutha Kaalathu' she proves positively that she's here to stay. Even in a scene where her toned finger nails almost betray the affluence of the actress who plays a character that wades through waves of wretchedness, she makes do with an amazing body language, and a skilful depiction of the misery that lies beneath. And its just not the three of them, in fact I loved them all - Tanushree, Anoop Menon, Lena, Nishan - they are all really, really good.
Shehnad Jalaal's camera doesn't merely capture the commentary on how a new generation caught in a technical invasion of sorts, strives hard to keep its senses in tact. On the contrary it seeks out particulars from the blurry array of faces that it sees before it, and attributes them with a face; that gets clearer and clearer as time passes by. The director's editing is first-rate.
Arun Kumar Aravind's 'Ee Adutha Kaalathu' is an emotionally bruising film that is oxymoronic to the core; it's the kind of film that is pleasingly depressing, casually engrossing and placidly terrorizing. A must-watch in short!