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An ode to Kerala and her people Through 10 filmmakers,10 journeys, one cinema. KERALA CAFE the quintessential railway cafeteria in every town and city. Over cups of coffee and timetables travelers cross paths, exchange glances, share stories and much more. From here, emerge stories full of humour, surprise, sensitivity, wonder, curiosity and revelations. Tales that illuminate the different faces of Kerala. Written by
I finished watching Ranjith's experiment, Kerala Café the other day. Ten different short stories by ten different directors combined to form a single movie. The experiment has been done, of course, in other languages, including in Bollywood (Dus Kahaniyaan). However, in the barren wasteland of creativity that Malayalam cinema has become since the turn of the century, Ranjith is one maker who keeps trying to revolutionize the industry, almost as a one man army out to repair the damage.
The movie has various stories from 10 directors, some established and some new. The opening is a story of NRI angst and memories, in a story fittingly called Nostalgia. Though this is not among the best, it does in a way capture NRI attitudes with respect to Kerala, and Dileep does well portraying a character with shades of gray.
After this, we see Prithviraj in all his effortless dashing best, talking about Jesus, Frankenstein and Mangalassery Neelakantan and about his 'bitch'. As only he can do these days, he pulls it off, in what turns out to be a touching story of a gathering of people from different walks of life, who bear common witness to a tragedy which affected them all. Called 'Island Express', this stars Jayasurya and Rahman as well and is one of my favorites from the collection.
The next was a story on adultery by Shaji Kailas with Suresh Gopi. It's a relief to know that Shaji hasn't totally lost it. Another decent effort to add to. After that is Uday Ananthan's Mrityunjayam, which has Fahd Fazil in a new avatar as compared to his last outing a few years back in his dad's venture. A horror movie, it does manage to send a chill or two down your spine, but still not one of the best here. Despite that, Fahd definitely does look much more assured now.
The next story is Anjali Menon's Happy Journey. This one beautifully captures the mind of a middle class Keralite male(Jagathy) who, on a night journey in a bus, tries to get flirty and touchy with a young co passenger next to him. What follows is a brilliant game of oneupmanship between them, which keeps the viewer guessing. I do hope that Anjali's Manjadikuru gets a release in Kerala. If this short feature is anything to go by, her full length movie must be great. After this, there are a couple of nice efforts including one on the effects of recession (brilliantly acted by Siddique and Shweta Menon) and another by Shyamprasad. Good to know he can do the light hearted ventures too.
However, one of the best here is Anwar Rasheed's Bridge. A brilliantly metaphorical and hauntingly sad tale about a son who tries to lose his mother, much the same way as a dad tries to lose the stray cat his son had brought home. The story talks of themes of helplessness, desolation and love and is beautifully acted (mainly Salim Kumar). Amazingly, this is done by Anwar Rasheed, the same guy who did those mindless potboilers with Mammooty and Mohanlal before this. I sure hope he continues on this path rather than go back to those.
PuramKazhchakal, starring Sreenivasan and Mammooty, is the last one, and another fine one. Sreenivasan is a traveler on a bus thinking of his past, when suddenly a man in a hurry gets on the bus. Throughout the journey he pesters the driver and gets ridiculed also, while trying to get the bus to move fast. The ending of this is touching and speaks a lot of how we may not realize why someone does what he does. Mamooty is shorn of all his star power here and does brilliantly.
Seeing these 10 minute stories, I couldn't help wondering If these guys can do so well with short stories, why the heck can't they start replicating this onto their longer counterparts?
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