Kaattu Vithachavar Review
The storms are reluctant to die even now when we rewind the mysterious disappearance of P. Rajan during the Emergency period. He was reportedly missing after his arrest from the college hostel on March 1, 1976. The tumultuous consequences that occurred in the political spectrum of Kerala after this incident were decisive for many politicians and the police department.
'Kaattu Vithachavar' is a sincere effort from the part of the students and the teachers of Oriental Film Institute, Kozhikode to reveal the truth. Written and directed by Prof. Satheesh Paul, this film explores the real answers behind the disappearance of Rajan, whose remains are yet to be recovered. The film opens with a detailed narration about how the Naxal movement found its strong foothold in Kerala; and more importantly, how Naxal activists immensely influenced the youths of that age.
Rajan, portrayed by Manoop, is an engineering student in the Regional Engineering College (REC), Kozhikode. A good singer, he is known for his soft-spoken nature among his friends. He has a couple of friends, who were attracted to Naxalism. Persuaded by his friends, Rajan too had attended the study classes of Naxals. But he is never a staunch supporter of Naxalism. When Naxals attack Kayanna police station in the wee hours, someone calls Rajan's name. This makes police suspicious and they start to arrest people bearing the name Rajan.
One early morning, while returning from zonal college youth festival venue, Rajan is taken into police custody along with another student. Thereafter Rajan disappears. Rajan's father Eachara Warrier, played by Jayaprakash Kulur, who is a retired Hindi professor, runs from pillar to post to know about the whereabouts of his son. But the State's then Chief Minister and the Home Minister pass the buck on police officers. Tini Tom appears as cruel DIG Jayaram Padiyal, who had opened a police camp at Kakkayam to interrogate Naxals. But he and his subordinates brutally torture innocent youths, including Rajan.
'Kaattu Vithachavar' never tries to explore the emotions of people who were close to Rajan. Shaji N Karun-directed 'Piravi' had portrayed the futile search and pangs of Eachara Warrier. But here DIG Balagopal Narayanan IPS, played by Prakash Bare, starts a probe into the lurking mystery in Rajan's case. In fact, Balagopal leads a battle against his own colleagues. His investigation begins on April 25 in 1977.
It is an honest attempt to showcase the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of an engineering student in Kerala during the Emergency period. The frugal settings and the specific colour tone being used in the film can be deemed as the major drawbacks. But the screenplay about a real-life incident has its originality and it shies away from filmic embellishments.
Jayaprakash Kulur makes his presence felt by the effective portrayal of the real-life character. Most of the new faces have shown justice to their roles. The austerity factor in the movie is really an obstacle in providing the desired output from the technical department.
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