There was a time when nothing could go wrong in the hands of Malayalam movie directors- during the middle of 1980s to middle of 1990s. Priyadarshan, Sathyan Anthikkad, I V Sasi, Padmarajan, Bharathan, Sibi Malayil- all these directors and many more, were making movies spanning diverse genres and diverse sensibilities. Then there was a sudden dip in the quality. Even many acclaimed directors had started making movies that were an insult to the sensibilities of the audience. Most of the movies started revolving around a super star or depended on tasteless humor treating the audiences mentally retarded. It is only in the recent few years, Malayalam cinema started slowly coming out of this pit riding on new generation movies. But even in its difficult times there were a couple of good directors who consistently delivered good movies. Among them Lal Jose is one director who has what you can call a Midas touch.
Lal Jose has consistently delivered interesting movies, without repeating himself and always showing the audience something that they never saw before. Along with that he always included a message for the viewer to take back home. Best thing is that this message is never told in a preachy way but comes embedded in the story itself. His heroes and heroines treaded the path of normalcy, never bothering to touch the sky. Every one of his character actors delivers their career best performance in his movies irrespective of the length of their role. All his movies take the middle path between art and commercialism. It is with all these expectations that I went to watch his latest movie, Ayalum Njanum Thammil (Between him and me) last weekend. And he delivered again.
Ayalum Njanum Thammil is a coming of age story of a doctor, Ravi Tharakan portrayed by Prithviraj. At the start of the movie we see him deciding to perform an operation seemingly without parental consent on a small kid. It proves fatal to the kid and to escape an irate crowd, he absconds. Three characters whose life he has touched meet in the aftermath, recounting their experiences with him. Ravi used to be a care free young medical student who passed his exams with great difficulty. He is compelled to work in a rural hospital to get his certificate and there he meets Dr Samuel. Dr Samuel’s idealistic life slowly transforms the home sick and wayward youngster into an idealist doctor. On the way we are exposed to several malpractices in Medical profession due to the commercialization of health care.
Prithvi gets the role of his lifetime and he never disappoints. Yesteryear actor Prathap Pothan who came back to limelight with a chilling portrayal of the villain in the movie 22F K, does the strikingly contrasting role of Dr Samuel. He is the show stealer in the movie with his soft, but stern articulation and sensitive performance. Narain as the friend of the hero, Samvritha as the heroine of his failed love story, Ramya Nambeesan and Reema in two small but pivotal roles, Salim Kumar, Mani and Sukumari… each of them has done great. The movie focuses only on the central story. All other subplots and characters are there just to show the change that the protagonist undergoes, even his lovestory is treated as such. The abrupt ending without much detailing makes the story more compact. Also this proves that Lal Jose considers his viewers as clever as him and knows nothing has to be spoon fed to them, which is also a welcome change.