Pazhassi Raja Review

In many ways 'Pazhassi Raja' occupied news columns in the recent past. It was the most anticipated Malayalam film this year. Its production equalling three big budget Mollywood films in terms of cost and time. And it is the Malayalam debut of Tamil industry's big gun Sarath Kumar.

The final product as it appears on the celluloid seems to justify every effort and every rupee that went into its making. It tells the story of Pazahssi Raja who rebelled against the British rule in Kerala from ‘Padinjaare Kovilakam’ of Kottayam. It was conceived as a tribute to the legendary warrior and turns out to be just that atleast in spirit.

Hariharan’s choice of Mammootty for the title role is perhaps the best thing to have happened to the movie. His persona lends such power to the rebel’s character that it becomes hard to imagine any other actor as Pazhassi Raja.

The canvas of the film is huge. Hariharan is a master of co-ordination and his genius shows up in every scene. Resisting the temptations of graphics, he has gone for the real and original stuff even for the stunt sequences.

Illayaraja's music is faithful to the period of the story. The genius has come up with a stupendous work that transports us to the British era. Raja's music touches the heart.
Oscar winner Resul Pookutty captures the finest details in the clang of swords, the cock’s crowing, and other natural sounds. His mixing is of the highest quality.

Kanika does not have much to do except play Pazhassi Raja’s wife Kaitheri Makkam but Sarath Kumar, Manoj K Jayan and Padmapriya have bold and beautiful roles. Sarath Kumar is Edachena Kunkan, Pazhassi Raja's army chief. His is another job well done. He understands his role well and plays it with finesse. Manoj plays Thalakkal Chanthu, a Kurichya guerilla warrior. Padmapriya as his fiancee Neeli is a revelation in the stunt sequences.

There isn’t much by way of a storyline either in the movie which is about fights and wars. The romance of Chantu and Neeli which could have provided the much needed relief is told too briefly and the script just leaves Neeli out in the final portions even as it talks about every other character’s end.

There is a feminist point-of-view to this film for which MT Vasudevan Nair can take all the credit. The women in this macho movie have remarkably been portrayed as bold, beautiful, courageous and assertive.

Ramnath Shetty works up sheer poetry with his lens that takes in the darkly enchanting mood of the forest, the lakes and virgin landscapes. Sreekar Prasad’s editing and Ravi Diwan’s impressive choreography all add up to the Pazhassi Raja experience. Not to forget about Jeyamohan's dialogues, which gives authenticity.

There are no dramatic twists in all of its three hours, due to which some may lose interest in the middle. Also, the aroma of Kerala which is spread all across the movie may not work well in Tamil Nadu.

Finally a word of appreciation for producer Gokulam Gopalan who stuck to the task of completing the movie despite a string of tragedies that happened during its three- year- long shooting.

Pazhassi Raja - Patriot