Thiruvannathapuram, Nov 19 (BPNS)
The ace Malayalam director, Lijo Jose Pellisery who has brought resounding box office success and has narrated the village stories of Kerala’s high ranges in his earlier movies like ‘Angamaly Diaries’, ‘EeMaYu’ and ‘Jallikettu’ has again come out with a movie set in the high ranges. ‘ Churuli’ the latest movie of the director has mystery, humour, and fantasy and is a thrilling one to watch.
The director, however, seems to have set a standard for himself with a distinctive style of film making and there are shades of ‘Jallikettu’ in some shots of the movie, and the deep wild and misty forests show certain resemblances.
The movie idea of ‘Churuli’ comes from the short story,’ Kaligeminnarile Kuttavalikal’ by Vinoy Thomas, one of the most brilliant short story writers of Malayalam and is almost an adaptation of the story but for the fantasy where it slips into during the course of the film.
Two policemen, Antony (Chemban Vinod Jose, who co-produced the movie ) and Shajeevan (Vinay Fortt) are in pursuit of a criminal in a long-pending case (LPC) and they cross a bridge and reaches the place, they seem to have reached a different space altogether. Both the policemen are in disguise.
Interestingly the movie revolves around a toddy shop which is also a makeshift church and leads one to a makeshift world where there is an element of mystery.
The basic idea of the films seems to be of history repeating itself and one of the policeman, Shajeevan saying that he seems to have been living in the village for ages even though he had stepped into the village a day earlier.
The similarity of ‘Jallikettu’ is in the pace and mood of the movie as the raucous and ribaldry is a common thing in both the movies. Women are not given a prominent role in the movie while there are several experiments that are taking place in Malayalam film industry with movies like the ‘Great Indian Kitchen’ having Woman at the centre of the show. In ‘Jallikettu’ also women characters did not have much to show off and in ‘Churuli’ also the director seems to have stuck to that position, maybe because of the story he has in hand.
The movie is charming with excellent performance by Chemban Vinod and Vinay Fortt and ‘Churuli’ commences with a dominant caste Namboothiri man going in search for a ‘Perumadan’ or a phantom and totally unknown to the Namboothiri, the Perumadan was in the basket that was being carried by the Namboothiri.
The film has its fun moments, humour, and doses of fantasy and scary scenes and there seems to be no answer to the viewer on this and the movie introduces you to the strange behavior of the people of Churuli.
The driver of the jeep who takes the policemen to Churuli is polite and expressive as also other fellow travelers but when they cross a particular bridge and the manner of the people changes and they become roguish and overly brash once they cross the bridge.
The toddy shop which was earlier said to be the centre of the movie is run by a foul mouth person played beautifully by Jaffer Idukki and interestingly both the policemen also change their behavior on reaching Churuli.
The movie is all about exposing the hypocrisy behind the civilized world and a conjuring world and the movie seems to have lost its plot somewhere in between.
The camera by Madhu Neelakantan is endearing and the screenplay of S. Hareesh is woven perfectly in sync with the story written by Vinoy Thomas. Lijo Jose Pellisery as a director has to shrug off the baggage he is carrying in his earlier movie ‘Jallikettu’.
In total Churuli has done well in camera in acting but somewhere the plot of the movie seems to show some artificial element to the narrative even though it had a tight script and an exceedingly beautiful camera work and acting.
Chemban Vinod, Vinay Fortt, Jaffer Idukki, and Jojo George performed exceedingly well and the movie is woven around the lives of the two policemen played by Chemban Vinod and Vinay Fortt.