Malgudi Days Malayalam Movie Review
The harrowing real incident on which 'Malgudi Days' is based is tremendously horrifying, but the film falls terribly short of translating this dreadfulness on to the big screen. Where it falters, are in the cinematic liberties that it liberally employs and assumes to be safe, and which on the other hand reeks of an inadvertent daftness that robs the plot of its focus.
The two kids - Milan (Vishal) and Atheena (Janaki) - occupy the centre stage in the film, and play class mates at the Malgudi school who strike up an uncharacteristic rapport , much to the amusement of their teachers and school mates. Milan, the infamous troublemaker at school finds a friend in the new addition to his class, Atheena, who has been struggling hard to come to terms with a personal loss.
There is a parallel narrative that includes Zefan (Anoop Menon), a planter by profession and an artist by passion, who has been leading a blissful life with his wife Janet (Bhama) and their only daughter, until a group of four youngsters barge into their lives one night, leaving a trail of blood and shattered lives behind.
Debutante directors Visakh, Vivek and Vinod blend these plot tracks together and load it up with plenty of digressions that assess the viewer's power of endurance. The film that runs along for one hundred and twenty four minutes, looks a bit too stretched out in the former half and forcefully squashed in during the latter.
Life is stranger than fiction, and while it remains that the girl locked up in the hostel in the original incident in 2002 was found dead, it does sound improbable to the core that a search team never really conducts a search of the hostel premises and rooms, even a day after two kids have gone missing.
'Malgudi Days' could have immensely benefitted had it stuck to the original thread that it has been inspired from, and its ironically the savior in the film and his tale that turn out to be the chief reasons behind its undoing. Its disheartening to see the film squander its good will on cinematic contrivances that never work.
There are very few true pleasures to be had from this film, and while there isn't anything wrong with the dismal mood that it maintains throughout, the characters are weighed down by the soppy baggage that each carries along.
There are songs that appear dime a dozen in the film, and regrettably there isn't one that gels skilfully into the narrative. And there are some (like the kid's song, for instance) that are appalling and which come across like a trial and error experiment.
The lead performances are all admirable, and probably should be a major motive for anyone to decide to watch the film. Anoop Menon does a respectable job of playing the man who watches helplessly as his life topples down in a hurry. The kids (Janaki and Vishal) are remarkably good as well, while Bhama, Priyanka and Saiju Kurup lend ample support in their respective roles.
'Malgudi Days' ends up being a wipe-out, with a blemished account that fails to connect. R K Narayan, for one, wouldn't be pleased.