Gripping family drama from the golden age of Malayalam cinema
First, let me offer my own credentials. I grew up during the late 80s and early 90s with movies from the golden age of Malayalam cinema, many of which were exceedingly good. After Malayalam cinema by and large went the direction of mindnumbing superstar action flicks and slapstick "comedies" that made you wince, my interest in Malayalam movies waned. I have since almost exclusively watched non-Malayalam movies (except for the exceptional good movie, such as Manichitrathazhu (1993) and Desaadanam (1997)). I've watched a *lot* of non-Indian movies since, and my favorite directors include Kurosawa, Bergman, Lynch, and Sergio Leone.
Now, with that background, I can say that what sets this movie apart from other family dramas back then --- and even until today --- is the tautness, suspense, and credibility in the plot and the *stellar* acting. Trust me, this movie has some of the most believable acting ever; some characters reminded me of my own family members (for e.g., the inconsequential scene where Oduvil gives Lalitha a bouquet.) Mohanlal acts a little stuck up sometimes, but I believe that was the role. The supporting cast is phenomenal with Lakshmi (edathi) deserving special mention.
But that's not it; this movie also has a massive overload of carnatic music. The songs are ones that stay with you through your life. I haven't heard these songs for well over 15 years, yet the lyrics and inflections have stayed with me. Kaithapram's really gone to town with the lyrics; the lyrics of the 'Ramakatha' song are gloomily appropriate for the occasion where it is sung.
For non-Malayalees, this movie is a great example of solid Malayalam drama that isn't one of those "award cinemas" only connoisseurs can appreciate. Please have a Malayali friend verify your subtitles for you before you watch! For Malayalees, I expect you to have watched this movie, and you visited this page only to give this movie a great rating!
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