It feels good to be back on a magical land that looks all green, where the water seems pristine and where the sunrays seep out of clouds unsullied by smoke. It feels good to draw in some fresh air and sleep in the stillness of the cold night. It feels good to clasp a few lucky red seeds inside your palm...to be in Kerala, a good twenty years back.
Anjaly Menon's 'Manjadikkuru' is a coming of age tale of a young boy named Vicky (Sidharath), whose life is transformed as he lands up from Dubai at his mother's ancestral house in Kerala, where his grandfather has just passed away. The funeral over, Vicky stays back at the place for the next couple of weeks, as his parents and the rest of the relatives who have gathered there, wait for his grandfather's will to be read out on the sixteenth day.
It's a retro journey for all of us, who had been there, who have seen how stunning this wonderful place was before it transformed gradually into a terrain that has been slowly, but surely losing out on its charm. There is always something delightful about that age that at least a few of us have had the opportunity to be a part of; an age when email and the internet might have sounded as remote a possibility as could be, an age before the influx of plastic, and an age where innocence and virtue reigned in abundance.
At a very obvious level however, the film tells the story of Roja (Vyjayanthi), a Tamil immigrant girl who works as a housemaid at Vicky's ancestral house. The endearing companionship that builds up between the two is expanded further when two of Vicky's cousins join in. Together, the four of them have a blast, even as their parents bustle around to perform the last rites of the man who is no more.
Death holds little significance for them, and as the body is carried away to the funeral ground, the four children gawk at the small procession curiously. The event isn't able to sustain their interest for long that within moments gets transferred to the ripe mangoes on a tree nearby. The idea isn't lost on them though, and when the tadpoles that they had mistaken for fingerlings are found dead, they make sure that the creatures have a proper burial, just as the grandfather had had.
What is most painful about the film is the realization that the lucky red seeds perhaps holds no significance for a new generation that is fed on video games and television sitcoms. There would be many a tiny finger that would never ever feel the shine and sparkle of the crimson beads.
'Manjadikkuru' has a bunch of amazing child artistes, all of whom have contributed appreciably to the allure of the film. It also has seasoned performers like Murali, Urvasi, Rahman, Bindu Panicker and Praveena giving it their best. Cinematography by Pietro Zuercher and the music by Ramesh Narayanan are top notch.
Anjaly Menon's 'Manjadikkuru' is an ode to the inherent innocence that once existed in us. Appealing equally to viewers of all ages, the flight of fancy that she offers to this incredible world that once was, is certainly not to be missed!
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