I love it when Mammootty emotes on screen. It had always been that simple. No matter whether it is an action movie or a comedy or a family drama, the primary reason why I watch any Mammootty movie is to watch the great actor unleash on screen the art of bringing the audience to tears – an art which he has mastered to perfection over years. When this man’s eyes turn wet or voice stumbles, there are far fewer things that are more magical on screen. In the recent past though, its very rare you see scripts and characters come the actor’s way which does full justice to this talent.
Hence ever since Munnariyippu trailer was out, I had been looking forwards to movie’s character- C.K Raghavan but here comes the big surprise- Raghavan does not emote. It is so difficult to read from his emotions or actions what is deep in his mind and that is how the character is designed for the story to work. But Mammootty being the genius he is, he excels as he does at most things and its his performance that makes sure that the viewers are left no clue to guess what the mystery is throughout movie’s runtime.
(ALSO READ : Mammootty And The Art Of Bringing The Audience To Tears )
Munnariyippu tells the story of Anjali Arakkal, the freelance journalist who makes her living being a ghost writer. During one of her assignments to write an autography for jail superintendent, she meets an inmate-C.K Raghavan, grows interest in his story and character and decides to write a feature on him. C.K Raghavan had been sentenced to life for homicide of two ladies. But even after completing his term of 14 years, he prefers to continue in jail. The story then revolves around how he comes out of jail , how Anjali pursues him to write what really happened in his life and if the audience really get to learn all those.
Aparna Gopinath is a revelation. I was impressed with her debut in ABCD but from there onwards,it had been a downhill for the actress whether its the movies she had been part of or the characters she portrayed. Here in Munnariyippu though she stuns one and all matching up to the veteran Mammootty in many scenes. Its her earnest portrayal of a journalist who is determined to succeed and scale greater heights in life that brings an urgency to the otherwise sedate proceedings.
Nedumudi Venu is a treat as always and brings few chuckles on our face. I wish Malayalam Cinema utilizes this actor more often. It has started to irritate to see Joy Mathew in every other movie these days but in this one, he did a fine job. Renji Panicker continues to be a natural in front of screen. Prithvira’s cameo has nothing much to do but provides an important turn in the story with an advice he gives Aparna. 2012’s National award winning child artist, Minon once again leaves a mark as the kid who befriends Raghavan and around only whom Raghavan is cheerful during the days he is out of jail
Cinematographer Venu makes a stellar return to direction after a long break and its his novel theme and intriguing story that is the winner in Munnariyippu all the way. Unni.R’s screenplay provides the right impetus needed to this story. The technique these makers have used to tell the story in a lethargic pace to the point that the viewers finally start to get bored and then suddenly hit them with an ending like a ton of bricks has reaped in huge rewards. Bijibal’s haunting background music helps the movie a great deal too.
But above all, what Venu primarily needed was an actor who would not reveal anything at all about what C.K Raghavan is about and maintain the mystery surrounding him till the very end. Mammootty does that job with great aplomb , once again you only see the character the actor plays and not the actor himself.
It is very rare in a terrific movie where Mammootty has played the lead role ,that you walk away from the cinema halls not taking with you the brilliant acting moments by the actor. But Munnariyippu is one such movie and Mammootty has actually nothing to do with it . Its because C.K Raghavan does not reveal much on his face. He doesn’t emote at all. He behaves differently from others. Even his ideologies and philosophies are different.
Mammootty’s ability to become the character he plays coupled with an astounding work of Venu and Unni.R in moulding Raghavan delicately and perfectly might have given us a new entry to the list of Malayalam Cinema’s finest movie characters ever. In Munnariyippu, its not the acting nuances that haunt you when you leave the halls, its the whole character.
*** SPOILER ALERT**** – If you have not watched the movie, do skip the below section and come back after you have met C.K Raghavan.
I went in to watch Munnariyippu after I read many reviews that the climax was half baked and open ended. I am glad that I kept my expectations minimum due to that and I was taken aback completely. The climax was just riveting ! There was no stone unturned there or no tale unfinished.
It just had the right amount of detail to make sure that I could leave the halls thinking more about C.K Raghavan and to understand that his actions meant he had always found freedom and independance within the walls of jail than in the life outside. And that discovery made sure that C.K Raghavan continued to haunt me for the next 24 hours and also that I had to sit down and write about him in more detail.
Between do any of you recall the scene where Raghavan asks Anjali if that recording device can read and record what is in his mind. He did know that was the only way anyone could have learnt anything about him until the makers gave us a very small window at movie’s end:)
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