Kunchacko Boban in a still from ‘Pakalum Pathiravum’ | Photo Credit: Goodwill Entertainments/YouTube
How do disasters occur? If the disaster is happening in an Ajai Vasudev movie, it is certainly going to be in slow motion, with a relentless, ear-splitting background score. And there is no escape from it, since you are caught inside the same movie, and you too can only run in slow motion. In Pakalum Pathiravum, his latest directorial, the use of slow motion begins right from the opening scene, of police raiding a high-range hamlet to nab suspected Maoists. The camera pans around a police officer, who is at best playing an inconsequential role, and captures in glorious detail the lighting of a cigarette and his slow walk towards a man who is questioning the police action.
Pakalum Pathiravum (Malayalam)
director: Ajay Vasudev
Cast: Rajisha Vijayan, Kunchacko Boban, Guru Somasundaram
runtime: 120 minutes
Storyline: The fate of a struggling family changes when a stranger, a wildlife photographer stranded on his way to the forests, takes shelter at their house for a night
The slow-motion shots serve no purpose other than making the audience assume that one or the other character has a key role to play, only to be proved wrong. At the center of the story is a financially struggling family living at the edge of the high ranges. The family’s financial troubles are compounded by the drinking habit of the father (Manoj KU), a farmer. As money lenders threaten the family, the daughter, Mercy (Rajisha Vijayan), is looking at ways to live a better life. Michael (Kunchacko Boban), a wildlife photographer, gets stranded on his way to the forests and takes shelter at their house for a night.
When Michael comes into the picture, one would naturally assume that he would have a role to play in changing the family’s fortune. But when the scriptwriter throws an overused trope at us to establish the character’s link with the family, one is genuinely taken by surprise upon learning that this trick is still not outdated.
Pakalum Pathiravum happens to be a remake of Dayal Padmanabhan’s Kannada film Aa Karaala Ratri, which in turn was based on a 20-minute-long play. Clearly, that play might have worked due to its shorter duration for there is a potentially thrilling story of what greed and hopelessness can drive people to do. But Pakalum Pathiravum, it gets stretched pointlessly over two hours. It could have still worked to an extent, if not for the old-school filmmaking that can successfully kill any promising plot.
Vasudev, whose filmography consists of works such as Rajadhi Raja, masterpieceand Shylockuses the same loud approach seen in these movies to Pakalum PathiravumBut this is a different kind of movie. The director’s natural affinity to the mass masala genre is evident in how the reference to the release of one such movie is placed in the script for no reason, as the camera pans slowly over the film’s poster.
This approach to the entire film ensures that the audience would remain unmoved even when major revelations are made towards the end. The lack of effort in building these characters further makes it hard to root for them. Pakalum Pathiravum is felled single-handedly by its mediocre filmmaking.
Pakalum Pathiravum is currently running in theatres.