The quench for playing football leads to Aamina's quest for grabbing a place among the boys in the playground. The nine-year-old girl is unaware of the socio-religious outlook of the people around her. Her innocence in the complex social set up becomes the queries of writer-director Aadhi to the society. Set in a village in North Kerala, 'Panthu' stresses for harmony among all sects and there are oodles of symbols in the film. A Hindu woman and a Muslim man are seen walking together at night in the village; they are nothing but tropes of tolerance and harmony.
Aamina's (Abeni Aadhi) mischievous acts and lively demeanour are the major catalysts of the film. Her insatiable passion for football is supported by her great grandmother (Rabia Begaum). She dreams of buying a football for herself and play along with the boys in the village. The child's efforts to find money for it with the help of a boyfriend are hilarious and it also points to Aamina's struggle to find room among her peers to play the game. Aadhi soon shifts the focus to the rustic life where he showcases how the intrusion of liquor makes an impact among people.
Pooram (a festival) in the temple evokes a concerted emotion among them irrespective of the religion. A Gulf man comes to his village for vacation with the nostalgia of watching the festival after a hiatus. But Sudheesh (played by Sudheesh himself) misses it as he is engaged in boozing arrack in the company of arrack seller Krishnan (Indrans), who has been missing the opportunity to watch the festival every year despite living in the village.
A love affair between two school teachers set the stage for another tale and Aamina becomes an eyewitness to the atrocities of the antagonist. At night while stranded in a narrow way, a woman guides her to home. The mythical characters, dressed in Hindu and Muslim attires, converse with the real-life characters at night, bringing in a touch of fantasy to 'Panthu'.
A communist functionary named Vivekanandan (Irshad), and the scene of an RSS worker seeking the help of a Muslim to get a visa are the talking frames that are effectively eloquent in the current political scenario. In the village, those who perform religious rituals in the guise of indigenous Gods rely on liquor to get some fancy courage. A cross section of the rural life is adequately unfolded with the smart visual support by Aswaghoshan.
Sultan, played by Vineeth, is the lovable father of Aamina, and he encourages her to pursue her passion. Working in Saudi Arabia, he has been mistakenly linked to the case of the suicide his friend's sister. Unfolding the mystery behind the death and the love affair episode of the teachers are real distractive factors from the delicate tale of Aamina and her attempts to play football with boys. Despite creating exhilarating moments, the strongly going narration falls apart with the intervention of a cliched subplot.
Abeni as Aamina creates a delightful and energetic premise with her amazingly natural performance in a pivotal role. Like the character's eagerness to realise her dreams, Abeni displays the true petal of confidence for really transforming herself to the mindset of Aamina. Composer Ishaan Dev's music stands very close to the plot premise.
Here the subtle content of a riveting theme gets diluted with a heavy dose of regular good-evil drama concept. The eloquent frames are thought-provoking but that effect is missing in the content.
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