This movie is proof that #Alphonseputhren knows how to harness the visual media to weave sheer magic on screen. He was well complimented by all his cast and the crew especially the cinematographer Anend Chandran and Rajesh Murugesan with music. I have translated 5 songs here and was awestruck by the quality of composition. Rajesh Murugesan, you should give us more of your creative best in Malayalam movies and hopefully other languages
There are many things which appealed to me in the movie and that is not the entire scope of this post. So will restrict to only few scenes which reveals more about the man behind the camera, than the visuals seem to convey-
The camera positioned on top of the tea shappu as if mildly lunging from shoulders to inform us that Koya is looking for his friend in the first instance and then after few languishing flirtations with the tea shappu again takes us to inform that Shambu too is eagerly looking for George’s arrival!
The other being the Lemon Juice being made by the deft hands of the vendor, while the conversation is happening in the background as if to suggest that life offers more interesting snapshots than the adolescent banter of young boys about their crushes!
One more scene which again shows a similar visual narrative technique is that of a a fried fish being the focus of camera, while one could sense the hustle and bustle of a college canteen away from it. Absolutely brilliant. I am reminded about #Mysskkin who has this uncanny ability to design scenes by his unique camera positions and populating it with themes filled with ironies. But for many discerning viewers, one gets an impression that he is trying hard to prove to his admirers and detractors alike, about his craftsmanship, which sometimes puts you off. Till now that sort of “shouting through the visuals” is not seen from Puthren which places him slightly above Mysskin
In twitter there were commentators who thought Autograph of Cheran said this story long ago. Might be storywise, but i fail to recollect even a single scene vividly, where he took that extra effort and inventiveness by exploiting the rich canvas of film roll that can unleash to create something like what Puthren could do with Premam. The one scene which i remember though from Autograph, is his ode to Tamil language, when Gopika shares an apple with him, he imagines both of them as Adam and Eve in his thoughts, where he responds in Tamil, while she replies in gibberish! This was clever, as he alludes to the fact that Tamil precedes even the times of Bible! Apart from such cinematic contrivances, visually it was not remotely appealing as much as Premam.
Which now brings me to my beef (not Beep) of Premam, which deeply shares the male lovers’pain and angst at couple of attempts at romance. Understandable indeed, but could have also conveyed to us why the women in his life were like the way they were shown. Mary’s character was particularly disappointing and suffers the Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya (VTV) syndrome which afflicted Jessie’s character in that movie. She never tells us, if not convey, why she has soft corner to the George of Sacred Heart school, but can’t fall for him even at the cost of bees populating her curled locks, as hives!
The caste universe of Malayalam movies are so exclusive that beyond the rich, middle class,upper caste Syrian Catholics and Nairs/Menons, a typical Malayalee family does not exist. I mean Koya marrying a Hindu girl was brave, only to reveal to us that she is from Nair community, a recurring “coincidence” of Malayalam films, as if to convey that the match is from a “respectable Hindu family”. George’s failures with romance seems to suggest that inter religious, inter state alliances are destined to fail-a sad commentary on the damning statistics of such alliances in India. In general such matrimony hovers around 11% with Kerala faring slightly better at 20%
On religious lines – Hindu (55%), Muslim (27%), Christian (18%) Hindus on caste lines – Ezhava (23%), Nair (13%), SC & ST (10%), Other Hindu (9%)
So approximately, from an identity standpoint, Muslim (27%) + Ezhava (23%) = 50% SC & ST and Other OBC = 18% Christian = 18% (12%-6% Forward-Backward divide) Nair = 13% Other Forward Caste Hindus = 2%
The caricature of an young duffer lecturer, evoking few guffaws, nonetheless also had mild transphobic references about him. Like, while discussing about his crush on Malar with George and Co, he is egged on to inflate his imaginary land holdings to “900 acres” with the friends of George, including himself hiding their laughter at that suggestion. One can’t miss this very subtle insult about his “seemingly effeminate” nature.
To conclude, beyond the visual brilliance of the scenes imagined by Alphonse, a movie lover can’t miss the many prejudices and biases of the director, giving away despite his attempts to keep the proceedings light. Alas, an opportunity to break the stereotypes which plagues Malayalam movies ever so often, barring few exceptions, continues to seep in to this movie’s narrative as well.