‘Ninte achanaada parayunne kathi thaazhe ideda’ – tells a helpless Achuthan Nair to his son, Sethumadhavan in the closing scene of Kireedam. Sethumadhavan has just stabbed and killed the criminal who ruined his life but is still in a furious mental state and pointing the knife vigorously to his father. After few seconds, he comes back to his senses, listens to his dad, drops the knife and then cries out loud to the sky. Its an immensely powerful sequence.A young man who had big ambitions in life has now turned a murderer and a father’s dreams of seeing his son become a police inspector has shattered.
The complete movie has been shaped up as a build up to this finish. The entire market and crowd has all been staged perfectly and any other actors in place of Mohanlal and Thilakan would have toned down the impact.The end result is perhaps the most haunting and heartbreaking climax ever written in Malayalam Cinema.
Lohithadas’s terrific screenplay gave a shocking yet so real narrative of how a youth’s fate takes a dramatic turn when he beats up a local goonda to save his constable dad. Sethumadhavan slowly starts losing his friends, family ,the girl whom he loved and finally the job which he aspired. Lohithadas told us how the society never tried to look at a person or accept him differently once he is indulged in a small mishap. Lohithadas in the company of Sibi Malayil had produced many popular tragic screenplays but Kireedom should rank as his best work. Kireedam was remade to four other languages but never made an impact like it did in Malayalam.
Mohanlal ‘s performance as Sethumadhavan is an instance as perfect as you could ever see an actor infuse life into the character he portrays .The scenes like where he leaves his house telling his mother that he is losing the grip on his life, where he hits Jose’s goon and screams he want to live and the entire climax are testimonials to the level of commitment and dedication with which the actor approaches his roles and which is among the reasons why he is regarded as one of the greatest actors in our country. The climax where he just chews while waving the knife at police is just another instance of the minute details he brings on-screen to improvise upon and make the character look so real.
Only once after have I seen Mohanlal top this performance – when he held his dead brother’s clothes and cried silently in Bharatham. Everything Mohanlal did in Kireedam worked wonders for him. But he was unfortunate that he ran straight into competition with another iconic character in Malayalam -Chandu Chekavar and lost to Mammootty in the final round for a well deserved National Award. Even today it is arguable that it was one award that should have been shared by both the legends equally that year
Achuthan Nair had as prominence as Sethumadhavan and who else than the great Thilakan could have done it complete justice. I read recently that Sibi Malayil and the entire crew adjusted to Thilakan’s schedule as he had to shuttle between multiple locations and today you could see the efforts were totally worth it. Mohanlal and Thilkan always shared amazing chemistry on screen for any movie they were part of. In Kireedam perhaps it looked the best. The sequences like in the police station where Achuthan Nair beats up his son and still brings food to him later depicted the father-son bond beautifully. Kireedam also marked a turning point in the career of Cochin Haneefa who had mostly done villain roles till then and Keerikkadan Jose went on to be known with his screen name in this movie.
Which is your favorite Malayalam movie ever ? Its a tough question to answer with so many wonderful movies out there. But if I have to pick one from them, I think I would go with Kireedam. I haven’t rooted for any other character on screen like I do for Sethumadhavan whenever I re-visit Kireedam. Every single time deep inside I wish that he doesn’t pick that knife and stab Jose. Every single time that loud cry to the sky haunts me for several hours after the movie ends.
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