Njan Malayalam Movie
A searing, compassionate film set against the backdrop of the freedom struggle, Ranjith's 'Njan' narrates the story of a man torn to shreds, as he tries to come to terms with the internal strife buried deep within his self. Devastated, he makes a silent exit from the world, leaving behind a trail of perplexity that has a young blogger Ravi Chandrashekhar (Dulquer Salman) all enthused.
K T N Kottoor (Dulquer Salman), who was last seen on the 15th of August, 1947, was a man with such remarkable perspectives, who was destined to grow accustomed to failures in life. A free thinker who realizes the bitter way that his inquiries into truth and his societal interventions are perceived the wrong way, Kottoor is also a raw man who gives in to his vagrant desires without a second thought.
Having professed his love to Susheela (Shruthi Ramachandran) at Vadakara, where he had spent his young days with his uncle, Kottoor returns to his village to serve his people. He finds it impossible not to give in to the charms of the pretty housemaid Janu (Anumol) and impregnates her. Later, he spends his days wallowing around the hut of an arrack seller Valli (Pearle Maaney) before succumbing to her seductive allure.
And yet, when it comes to marriage, Kottoor decides to tie the knot with a blind girl Lekshmikutty (Jyothi Krishna), since he believes that very few with sight have a true insight! Perhaps his wife ends up a disappointment to him, since much to his surprise, she displays an innate skill to view things, despite being sightless by birth.
When his great aunt (Muthumani) passes away, Kottoor refuses to open the doors of his room and come down to take one last look at the one who had been a mother to him. Ravaged by guilt, he gazes at the embers of her pyre, tears welling up in his eyes. And not much later, summons his wife to his room and forces himself on her, in spite of her reminding him that the smell of death still lurks round the house.
The complexity that is brought in by the tales that intertwine with other tales compels the viewer to remain focused on the intricate account. Kunjooli (Sajitha Madathil) guards a secret with a fervour that will accompany her to her grave, and when her son Nakulan (Hareesh Peradi) offers a hand to Janu, Kottoor senses that history has an odd way of repeating itself.
The mystery surrounding the film's protagonist is retained to the hilt right till the very last scene, when Ravi unravels a final snapshot of the man as believed to be seen at Chennai's Marina Beach saluting the tricolour. Having turned his back to us, the silhouette of Kottoor stands tall and proud, almost challenging us to shed some light on the obscurity surrounding his final days.
Earlier, at the beginning of the film, an appealing and yet extremely debatable observation is made, regarding Attenborough's monumental epic 'Gandhi' occupying a lower rung of the ladder of appreciation than Naseeruddin Shah's portrayal of the father of the nation in the much acclaimed play 'Mahatma vs Gandhi'. The point is to decidedly emphasize that theatre has often successfully overcome the limitations of cinema, and rightly so.
But the one question that immediately springs to mind is whether the same would apply in the adaptation of T P Rajeevan's celebrated work 'K T N Kottoor: Ezhuthum Jeevithavum', on which the film itself is based. One cannot then help but wonder if a play based on the book would surpass the excellence that this film has managed to achieve.
In 'Njan', Ranjith throws caution to the winds and like a proficient juggler, switches between multiple narratives with an elan that is alien to contemporary Malayalam cinema. Surprisingly, he even makes abundant use of the stage through the medium of cinema, and the juxtaposition of these diverse media is spellbinding.
Dulquer Salman's exemplary performance as Kottoor elevates him to the stature of an accomplished actor with ease. Anumol is outstandingly good as Janu while Muthumani and Sajitha Madathil make pertinent impressions. Especially noteworthy is scenarist Renji Panicker in the role of Kuttishankaran Nair, the Malabar zamindaar against whom Kottoor rages his first war ever.
Manoj Pillai's cautious frames saunter in and out of the confines of the Kottoor ancestral home, capturing the scattered lives within, with a brilliance that is unmistaken. Bijibal's cloudy musical score serves as an omen to the torrent that is to follow. 'Njan' also boasts of some splendid art direction by Santhosh Raman, apposite make up by Ranjith Ambady and fabulous costume design by S B Satheesh.
'Njan' has the classic Ranjith signature all over it and without doubt is the film maker's best directorial venture till date. Opulently layered with intricacies, the film is in no way an easy watch, and yet is an accomplished piece of cinema that offers the discerning viewer an observant slice straight out of life.