Though news about the movie got a bit of attention every now and then, Munnariyippu did not have a huge promotional campaign or powerful marketing tactics. Instead, the veteran filmmakers involved in the project chose to let the movie speak for itself. What does it say? Let us see.
First of all let’s just say there are no obvious good guys or bad guys in this movie – just people. Well rounded, interesting characters who are all involved in one way or the other to the main storyline of the film.
The story follows a freelance writer/journalist named Anjali Arakkal (Aparna), who is ambitious and intelligent. She makes her living being a ghost writer for people who don’t particularly have the skills to write for themselves and though this pays the bills, Anjali wants to make it big as a writer.
In her quest to do so, she meets a journalistic giant who entrusts upon her the job of ghost writing the auto biography of a friend of his – the Superintendent of a jail (Nedumudi) who is about to retire. Though not thrilled with the job she takes it and it is while she is in prison meeting with him that she meets an unassuming enigma of a prisoner named CK Raghavan (Mammootty).
Raghavan is a simple but captivating fellow who is in for a double homicide, which he says he never committed. Though he had the chance to leave, Raghavan has chosen to not opt for parole and is happy in the prison.
Obviously Anjali’s attention turns to him, and she writes a feature based on the translation of various musings of Raghavan. This feature gets her noticed on a national level and soon she is offered a book deal by a major literary agency for Raghavan’s story.
The determined Anjali now has the task of convincing Raghavan to leave prison, write his story, all the while keeping her own success in mind.
The plot then follows a mysterious Raghavan who never reveals his truths, a frustrated Anjali, her friends, corporate competition and third parties all gunning for the story behind the man with all the secrets.
There are sub plots and an array of interesting characters who keep you invested in the narrative and the tale, and you find yourself enthralled by the events which lead to a decisive end.
Performances and Technical Aspects:
Mammootty rocks as Raghavan. In fact, the megastar disappears completely in a few short minutes, and you are in the grips of a elegant and effortless performance delivered by and served to a crisp perfection by the national award winning legend. Mammukka totally and completely inhabits the character who is surely written to his strengths, one must say. There are no punch dialogues or superstar moments which take you out of the cinematic illusion and remind you of the carefully concealed stardom.
Aparna Gopinath too delivers what is arguably a career best for her, though that is not saying much given her short career. She holds her own against Mammootty onscreen and there are no awkward moments when you’re aware of the experience factor creeping in between the two. Aparna pulls her own weight for sure. This being especially tough for her given the heavy Malayalam lines she has to speak, overcoming her natural anglicized accent. So, kudos to her too.
Then we have the huge array of veterans and a delightful cameo by Prithviraj, all complimenting the tone and vibe of the film. In fact, the performances of many being so good is another reason why you are pulled in to multiple directions if you try to figure out where the story is headed. There simply are no weak links in the cast…
The technical aspects of the movie are again a ‘no complaints’ area. Venu’s cinematography of course, leaves no room for criticism and is unique in its artistic sensibility. The editing matches the feel of the narrative in its comfortable pace and charming homogeneity.
There are no songs in the movie but Bijibal’s music drives the narrative forward without masquerading as a distinct entity. The string instruments blend in with their symphony into the editing and pace of the narrative.
Hawk Eye Analysis:
This a grown up movie. That does not mean it is artsy or does not have commercial value but just the opposite. Munnariyippu reminds us all what film making is all about and does so exactly because it does not rely on cheap applause or shortcuts.
The screenplay by Unni R is cinematic but natural and organic. It does not crave realism by employing crude language in the dialogues or maintain theatricality by pushing verbose conversations.
The fact that Venu wrote the story and also directed the film maybe one reason why we can see a consistent vision that makes the story telling exciting and holds our interest from the beginning to the end.
The narrative is eventful and does not have stretched out parts or unnecessary sub plots. To put it more simply, there are no real sections you would want to cut out, and each character you are introduced to aids your imagination in contemplating the layers within layers of meaning the movie offers.
That could be the criticism of the movie as well, that it leaves maybe a bit too much for you to interpret but it does so without exasperating the audience at least. The applause at the end of the movie or the small voices of discontent may pull your decision either ways but it is in the end your decision to make.
The ending will have you mulling over the entire film, frame by frame, in an attempt to grasp at the hidden wealth of emotional and intellectual satisfaction this gem if a movie offers.
Mammootty is back to what he does best. A sheer cinematic joy and a must watch for anyone who loves a good mystery and a classy movie.
This is not a movie that would entertain the kids probably, but for Malayalam movie fans who are tired of mass masala disappointments and new generation overkills, this would be a refreshing change.
Do not go in expecting a thrill ride or a roller coaster of emotional outbursts. This is not that kind of a drama but a carefully crafted but simple movie that will keep you thinking for some days to come.
Munnariyippu is good old fashioned film making at its best – no bells or whistles.
Definitely worth a watch and two thumbs up!