Punyalan Agarbattis Malayalam Movie

Feature Film | 2013
'Punyalan Agarbathis' is a good-natured and appealing slice of life that is much craftier than it actually looks. It's sharp, sprightly, smelly and without any doubt, truckloads of dung fun.
Dec 2, 2013 By Veeyen

Where To Watch:
DVD Release: Apr 04 2014

The delicious self-critique that Ranjith Sankar's 'Punyalan Agarbathis' indulges in makes it an absorbing and well-made social satire, the darts of which hit the bull's eye. A jubilant film that is invariably entertaining, it makes use of liberal healthy doses of humor to drive home the points that it has in mind.

Joy Thakkolkaran (Jayasurya), the proprietor of Punayalan Agarbathis, has been waging a court battle against the Devaswom Board, for having refused to hand over elephant dung to a Christian. Joy does win the case, but the whole world seems to be conspiring against him, determined to drag his dreams down to dust.

Thakkolkaran is a delegate of the educated Malayali youngster population, who holds three postgraduate degrees - in Business Administration, Social Welfare and Psyhcology - and is yet frantically striving to do something worthwhile in life. While he converses in halting, yet assured English, he definitely looks like a wizard of words when he switches over to his mother tongue.

Very rarely does a film maker exhibit a consistency when it comes to an affinity towards certain themes, and Ranjith Sankar in his fourth film surprisingly carries forward his hilarious assault on Malayali names even further. Greenu is no ordinary name, and the young man has probably over the years learned to live with the disreputation that his parents had bestowed on him. There is the aide at the agarbathi factory who has been named Jibru, while the truck driver Abhaya Kumar turns out to be precisely the opposite of what his name suggests, and is badly in need of some fierce backing himself.

Ranjtih's critical barbs that are aimed at television as a medium that has a very definite influence on the population of the state continues in 'Punyalan Agarbathis' as well. A sizeable population seems to have had their fill of daily soaps and have moved on to news nights that broadcast juicy titibits that could give any television serial a run for its money. Especially noteworthy is Thakkolkaran's comment on the new generation finding soft porn substitutes on prime time television these days.

The director also goes hammer and tongs on the innumerable number of hartals that bring life to an almost comfortable standstill in the state. Thakkolkaran verbally makes mincemeat of the undeclared, informal holidays that sprout out all on a sudden from nowhere, and at a later point declares one himself much to the chagrin of the official hartal laborers.

I have a very special liking for the scene in which Thakkolkaran pays a visit to the Elephant Owners' Association office to give them an agarbathi demonstration. To a group of animal owners who sound skeptical about the possibilities of manufacturing incense from cow dung, Joy smiles and lights up a few sticks as an answer. Remarkable is the fragrance that ebbs across the screen and finds its way right into our nostrils.

What I find most interesting about Ranjith Sankar films are the casual, supple touches that he lends to an otherwise undemanding scene, that are handpicked from the world that we see around us. Perhaps for the first time ever, we get to see two factory employees engrossed in a do or die battle involving the Angry Birds, where everything else has dissolved into a vacuum, and where only wingless birds and pigs exist.

There is no end to the designs that Joy Thakkolkaran has stacked away somewhere behind the back of his head, and we do get a glimpse of a rickshaw project of his that had gone kaput not several years back. Even as he struggles to get a footing in the agarbathi business, he shoots a snapshot of himself in an Ambani pose, and floats around in a reverie that involves a booming airlines business and a media station.

Anu seems to be the perfect Malayali wife in more ways than one. For one, she works her head off and is the sole bread winner of the family, and very rarely makes claims to prove the point. She does take up the role of a punching bag, when hubby seems to have lost his cool and looks all set to have a nervous breakdown. And with a single night ride on their Vespa scooter, she instills in Joy the courage to face life afresh, brushing aside his apprehensions and dread with an atypical ease.

I simply loved Jayasurya as Joy Thakkolkaran, and perhaps more than his accent, it's the verve that he brings into his portrayal of the go-getter who simply refuses to give up, that I found truly adorable. Nyla Usha is gorgeous, and as Anu is perfectly cast, while Rachana Narayanankutty does a remarkable job of playing the non-nonsense lawyer. Definitely worth a special mention are actors as Sreejith Ravi, Aju Varghese and Sunil Sukhada who excel in their respective roles.

'Punyalan Agarbathis' is a good-natured and appealing slice of life that is much craftier than it actually looks. It's sharp, sprightly, smelly and without any doubt, truckloads of dung fun.