Puzhu Malayalam Movie

Feature Film | 2022 | U | Crime, Drama
Ratheena PT's Puzhu could be a more thrilling film, but it keeps its cards too close to its chest. Nevertheless, the film is an admirable exploration of caste bias in Kerala with great casting and a splendid performance from Mammootty.
May 13, 2022 By Sreejith Mullappilly

For a long time, director Ratheena PT maintains a sense of secrecy about the type of character that Mammootty plays in Puzhu. Initially, Mammootty's Kuttan seems gentle enough, and elders seem to respect him. We also know that he is a widower living in an apartment with his school-aged child. The child initially seems to respect him, but we later learn that it possibly comes from a place of aversion. Besides that, we only know very little about the character.

The interactions between the father and son are among the highlights of Puzhu. Kuttan speaks gently enough to his son, but Jakes Bejoy's creepy background music suggests that their relationship is more strained than we think. In one shocking scene, the kid gets up from his bed, takes out a toy gun and fires a dart at his father's image on the wall. Why does the kid hate Kuttan so much? We feel that it has to do with Kuttan's relationship with his late wife, played by Athmiya Rajan.

Meanwhile, Kuttan thinks that there are people out there trying to kill him. He is forced to inhale carbon dioxide in the least expected places, such as the bath, elevator and so forth. Kuttan gently asks his son why someone would try to kill him despite him being a nice human being. We do not quite feel Kuttan's emotions because the character is very inward-looking.

Later, we know that Kuttan does not like his sister, Bharati, played by Parvathy Thiruvothu as she has eloped with Kuttappan, a stage artist, played by Appunni Sasi. Puzhu is so secretive about this aspect of the movie too as we do not get early explanations about why Kuttan treats his sister the way he does in the film. It is only in the latter half do we even know what Kuttan is all about. The climax is supposed to be disturbing, and the movie is meant to be a shocker. I also felt disturbed and admired many aspects of the film, but it did not fully work for me.

Puzhu has the potential to be a more thrilling film, but the pacing is an issue. Due to the pacing, a lot of scenes in the first hour of the film seem non-eventful. One can also treat this material in a commercial way and make it more thrilling, but Ratheena PT settles for a slow-burn approach. It is not that her direction is an issue. The scenes between the father and son alone show that Ratheena has a good directorial sense for a debutant. But a film like this does not need as much secrecy as it has.

As a result of this approach, Mammootty's Kuttan does not rise beyond a concept-level. It is an odd character with a disturbing past, but Kuttan keeps a lot to himself. His politics and caste bias are all interesting, though. Kudos to Mammootty for looking beyond his star image and doing this role. It has been a while since we saw Mammootty in this kind of role, and the actor does not disappoint. He holds the film together with a splendid performance. What is also commendable about Puzhu is the casting for the Kuttappan character. Appunni Sasi is a relatively new face in Malayalam cinema. Parvathy Thiruvothu also deserves some credit for acting with a newcomer like Sasi without any sense of vanity. We know that Parvathy is a powerful performer, but she shows a great deal of restraint in Puzhu.

Sreejith Mullappilly