Pookkaalam Malayalam Movie

Feature Film | 2023 | Drama
Pookkaalam has some important things to say about old age and marital relationships. Its writer-director Ganesh Raj handles the main issue in Pookkaalam maturely, but the film doesn't work due to its generic writing.
May 20, 2023 By Sreejith Mullappilly

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Ganesh Raj's "Pookkaalam" is a movie with a novel premise that uses certain cliches of Indian cinema to tell its story. There is a big fat wedding in a Christian family, and everyone has gathered in their ancestral house for it. But as is the case in many Indian films with such weddings, there are frictions between some members of the family that cast a shadow over the happy event they are waiting for. These issues seem silly on the outside and can be resolved with an open conversation between the characters, but the makers use a clever premise to stretch an otherwise cliched idea. The issues involve two older characters; with age, it becomes harder to accept certain life truths.

The first 30-40 minutes of the movie are a series of cringe-worthy jokes. The characters all act clownish just for the sake of the jokes. I felt like crying when a boy put a cringe-worthy twist on a famous line from poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri. But after a point, the movie becomes serious once the conflict sets in.

Pookkaalam is one of the countless films in Indian cinema that portrays a family as a wall and the members of it as the bricks in the wall. If the bricks fall, the wall will collapse. The cracks start to show in the family when Ittoop (Vijayaraghavan) finds a letter dating back 50 years or so.

Ganesh Raj's film has a lot of important things to say about old age and marital relationships. The way the writer-director handles the main issue in the film is very mature. There is a great sense of warmth in the relationships between the characters in the family, especially Ittoop and his Kochuthresia (KPAC Leela). Malayalam cinema does not often portray the relationship between an older couple as deftly as Ganesh Raj does in Pookkaalam.

Ganesh also draws some terrific performances from the actors, especially KPAC Leela and Vijayaraghavan. To know how good Vijayaraghavan's physical effort for the older character is, you have to see him play the younger version of himself. Such is the quality of contrast between the characters. The other actors, too, do a fine job, whether it be Annu Antony, Basil Joseph, or Vineeth Srinivasan. Some of the funniest moments in the film involve the lawyer and magistrate characters of Basil and Vineeth, respectively.

Unfortunately, the film does not fully work because the writing is so generic. You can sense the destination of the plot long before it eventually reaches there. There is an appreciable effort to make the climax novel, but certain writing decisions leave a lot to be desired.

Sreejith Mullappilly