Pathonpathaam Noottandu Malayalam Movie
In Theaters: USA INDIA
Vinayan's Pathonpatham Noottandu is an epic film about a warrior in Travancore, called Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker, who fights for the oppressed class. The story takes place at a time when the lower class cannot even stand near the upper class. It is also a time when a section of the lower class is penalized if they cover their breast with clothing. The upper class is so sadistic that they would like to watch one win albeit at the cost of the other in a fight where two people are pitted against each other. They are also so voyeuristic that they want to have the tax system in place to derive sexual pleasure rather than to get the tax itself.
At the start of the movie, Siju Wilson's character is not even Arattupuzha Velayudha Chekavar, let alone a Panicker. But he has all the traits of a warrior and a leader at a young age itself. Writer-director Vinayan establishes this character aspect with an obligatory fight sequence where Siju Wilson's character intervenes as a fight at a royal court is about to turn ugly.
We later see his character as Arattupuzha Velayudha Chekavar, a trusted ally of Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal Ramavarma of the princely Travancore state. Anoop Menon plays the King, and he is a man with principles. However, the other leaders of the state want to exploit the oppressed so much that it invites Chekavar to intervene and thwart their plans. The central conflict in the film stems from the need of the warrior to protect his clan and the desire of the Travancore leaders to exploit the people.
Vinayan's script seems more layered than meets the eye. Chemban Vinod Jose plays Kayamkulam Kochunni. This is a different version of Kayamkulam Kochunni from Nivin Pauly's Robin Hood-like rendition of the historical figure. Here, Kayamkulam Kochunni is a thief who loots the rich to make himself rich rather than to feed the poor. He feeds the poor just enough to keep them happy while peddling the looted stuff to the foreigners. This paves the way to a scene where the warrior and the thief meet for the first time at a dungeon. It is a terrific scene mainly because of the sheer physicality that the actors bring to their roles and the cast element that underpins the drama.
Speaking of drama, this movie has a lot of drama. It runs for almost 3 hours, but at no point do we have the impression that we are watching a stage or theater production. The dialogues sound ancient enough but not so ancient that it becomes inaccessible to us. Pathonpatham Noottandu is quite engaging for an epic film, which tells you a lot about its quality at a time when period dramas fall short of our expectations.
This is not to say that Pathonpatham Noottandu is flawless. The movie is about events from history, which means it cannot deviate a lot from facts. But Vinayan tries to make Siju Wilson's character more of a hero, with fight sequences that become a tad repetitive. There is also a track involving Kayamkulam Kochunni that needs a better ending. We never know what happens to the thief or his plans against the state.
However, Vinayan's film works for the most part because of his assured direction and for the way he extracts fine performances from the actors. Anoop Menon is a revelation in the role of a King. There is an air of confidence around the man that you do not often associate with the actor. Chemban Vinod is nicely cast in the role of Kochunni. There is also Indrans in a role with a couple of scenes where he excels. But the star of the show is Siju Wilson. Perhaps, Siju Wilson is the last man you would associate with a period film, but kudos to Vinayan for thinking out of the box. Siju brings such physicality and gravitas to the role that it is hard to believe that it is the same man who appeared as a comic actor in films such as Premam and Happy Wedding. As Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker, he is simply outstanding.