It’s in 2004 during my college days , the tamil movie Autograph released -a movie that struck me a lot. It told such a beautiful tale of three phases in a protagonist’s life each having an important lady who plays a great influence on him. Alphonse Puthren is influenced by the Cheran Classic in his new movie – Premam but he almost completely remoulds it on his own.
Alphonse has a hero who is utmost confident to do just about anything on screen, he lines up such a fresh cast (some of them making you wonder why no other director had found them before) , extracts the best of all his technicians and mixes mass with class in the right proportions .The result is an out and out entertainer that is so much fun that the first thing you want to do when leaving the cinema halls is to plan how quickly you want to go in there to experience it all over again !
When the movie opens, you see George David (Nivin Pauly) in his teens writing a love letter. Not having a clue how to write Orange in Malayalam, the colour of the churidar which the girl whom he loves wore in church, he tears the paper and says why couldn’t she simply wear blue. You would have started smiling and laughing there and pretty much ended it only when the final credits rolled. George’s first phase provides lot to laugh when the flirts in a village try different ways to woo the most beautiful girl there .
His second phase during his college days while keeping the fun quotient intact also paves away for many ‘goosebumps’ scenes with Nivin Pauly walking in slow motion , wearing his cool glasses and punching down his rivals in the college. The third phase finally tells you how he finally settles in life. There are instances when each phase ends ,you feel like the movie would go to a serious emotional tone , but to the director’s credit he just starts afresh kicking up the momentum again !
The fact that Alphonse Puthren is also the editor of the movie apart from donning the writer and director roles helps the movie a great deal. The scenes where he moves at leisure or the ones where he wraps up fast all works perfectly to the situation. He gets enormous support from his technicians especially the cinematographer -Anand C. Chandran and music director – Rajesh Murugan both of whose jobs are top-notch ! I liked the way Alphonse brings in a series of dialogues from various characters or from the background in a single shot that you would keep laughing recollecting all the lines for a couple more minutes.
In a hilarious scene, Vinay fort shows a picture of a dog and cat while teaching Java and asks his students to look more into it as he himself did not understand it properly. While that happens, a student tells in the background – ‘ Pine iyalku enthootu thengaya ariyuka’ just making sure the impact is multi-fold ! That Alphonse makes his characters sing bits from the famous Mohanlal or Kamal Haasan movies in 90s here and there should be only another method to make sure the viewers don’t come out of the ‘feel good’ mode !
If you have also noticed that the hero’s sister does not speak a single word, his mother is not at all shown and his father is absolutely supportive in the only 5 minutes he appear, you know this man wants to move away from the usual cliches. But perhaps nothing comes close to the best thing that Alphonse has done for the movie – “Casting”
Premam does not have a single experienced campaigner in the acting department other than Maniyan Pillai Raju (who plays the principal in the college). Yet it offers you the best instance in the recent past in Malayalam where casting of each single character is spotless ! You see many directors finding a hard time to get a single fresh face for their heroines and here Alphonse bring in 3 new ladies who all fit the bill.
Especially Sai Pallavi portraying Malar the teacher is quite a find ! The moment she walks in while Nivin and his friends are ragging juniors with a voice , grace and confidence that is rarely seen in our new heroines , she leaves in us a mark that would not be easily wiped away for long. Krishna Shankar and Sabareesh Varma are so apt as George’s friends.
Vinay Fort who follows Sai Pallavi persistently with a marriage alliance and his friend Soubin Sankar form quite a team. Vinay Fort is exceptional and his acting here should land him more good roles. Then finally there is Ranji Panicker’s 5 minute cameo which is enough for Alphonse to make use of the actor’s comic timing and the iconic background score from a classic that he has written script for
His contemporaries would envy Nivin Pauly for the gang of talented writers and directors he is surrounded which lets him get such great projects one after another. But when you watch the movies they make without Nivin in their cast like Thira or Ormayundo Mukham, you also realize how Nivin’s immense screen presence and enormous confidence as a hero is an important asset for them too. This guy can go through various phases of a character’s life once brilliantly ( 1983) and then come back and do it all over again here quite differently.
Nivin has wooed and romanced many girls on screen but then when he repeats it here , we are not at all bored ! He can do comedy effortlessly which is no longer news now ,can beat bad guys, emote finely and could make the youth whistle and clap when he walks around in slow motion. If 2014 saw Nivin Pauly making giant strides as an actor, 2015 is now witnessing the rise of a star !
Premam is an emphatic cinematic triumph ! Hearing a lot many good things about a movie and getting your expectations soared often tamper your movie experience but here you would only feel this movie is still worth a lot more than what you already read or heard.We have seen many young directors in the recent past emerge and redefine the manner in which commercial entertainers in Malayalam Cinema are made ..And Alphonse Puthran in Premam comes up and topples them all in style!
Premam might just be the best thing that has happened to Malayalam Cinema since Drishyam.
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