Director T.V. Chandran explores each petal of the social system, including family to relate and sometimes thrash the conventional social norms. To put it figuratively, the old man in the tale sees his dead sister in another child, and there forms an invisible bond between them. The social milieu of the past is unfolded through him as she represents the younger generation. The film is also a slap on the patriarchal family set up and social life. But the creative eloquence of the seasoned director is hardly enough to reach every nook and corner.
Written and directed by T. V. Chandran, 'Pengalila' depicts the tale of a unique bond between an old man and a small girl. As the second child of Vinod ( Narain) and Rekha (Iniya), Radhalekshmi, played by Baby Akshara Kishor, becomes friendly with a coolie in a jiffy when the family shifts from Mumbai to a village. Azhagan, essayed by Lal with supreme authority, is hailing from a lower caste and he had struggled a lot during the Emergency period in 1975. Radha gets the information about the history and the pathetic life of downtrodden people from Azhagan.
Vinod does not like her daughter mingling with Azhagan albeit Rekha shows sympathy towards the labourer. Azhagan participates in various protests of Communist party in his salad days and it's an irony that later in his life he is destined to see one of his comrades, Koshy Mathew (Renj Panicker) as a real estate businessman. Chandran's sarcasm is piercingly effective in presenting the drastic changes in society and family.
Like all the feisty female characters in the films of Chandran, here too, Rekha is fuming with the attitudes of her husband. She is not a typical onscreen wife, who creates her own space and waits for the nod of her hubby to take a further step in all matters. Rekha exudes confidence and she has self-esteem. She becomes livid when she comes to know about the cause of death of Vinod's friend Thomas (Basil Paulose).
Akshara is enthusiastic and smart in the portrayal of Radha. Lal is extremely dedicated in his approach to the character. A film with semi-poetic elements, 'Pengalila' discusses the politics of family and social lives. But it struggles to stay afloat handsomely as the disjointed scenes of conflict are not well-packed to give the feel. Topics like untouchability and atrocities against the downtrodden people are mere pointers that are simply visual rhetoric here.
The old-fashioned treatment and trite dialogues snuff out the impact of 'Pengalila', though some of the catching frames of Santhosh Thundiyil provide ease. The politics being stated in the movie is relevant in the social sense but on the personal level, the emotion being generated from it is minimal. Vishnu Mohan Sithara has lent some beautiful tunes to the action.
NOW PLAYING | MOVIE REVIEWS