Memories enter this week of Malayalam movie overdose fighting for a place with four movies, all of them creating bigger hype than this one. This movie had more of a release of silence compared to what Kadal Kadannu Oru Mathukutty, Neelaakasam Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum have been coming up with. All three of them were much awaited, but this movie was not that much of a subject during those talks. But it is that type of silence that grows on you, and makes an impact. As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tse had said, “Silence is a source of great strength”. Remember the quote by Aldous Huxley, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music” – now there comes the continuity of the movie connecting with the silence, for there is that background score as well as the music with which the movie begins, before going deep into the silence and breaking it again, powering itself from its slowness to the incredible strength and agility that it possesses within. The movie is a little silent dynamite which shows its signs of efficiency in the beginning itself, and explodes to bring out its best in the second half.
Jeethu Joseph had given us Detective – one of the best investigative thrillers in Malayalam, Mummy & Me – the movie which could change lives in a good way, and the big laugh riot which was My Boss. The same director has given us another treat in the form of Memories, and in the process, he might have provided us with the best of Eid. The movie goes through life of a police officer (as they say, an episode in the life of a cop), and brings that world to the audience. Sam Alex (Prithviraj Sukumaran) gets through the credit scenes supported by great background music, and stylish action before we come to the scene three years later when he is addicted to alcohol and walking around aimlessly, stretching from the bars to the beginning of the long beverages queues. He has memories of his wife and daughter who were murdered by a terrorist as a revenge for him killing his gangster brother in an encounter. He keeps himself to perpetual damnation on Earth, feeling that he and his police department are responsible for their death. He resorts to alcohol and moments of lazy depression to keep himself away from the world of the common man, drinking so much that he can hardly walk until he falls. The memories wake him up, and to keep them away, he drinks again, a procedure which would seem to last for eternity.
Meanwhile, his brother leaves the house and his mother is left worried due to his drinking habits. Meanwhile, a senior officer comes home and invites the former efficient cop to investigate the case of a possible serial killer on the loose. Even as Sam disagrees first, his mother convinces him to go through it. In doing so, he is assisted by a journalist Varsha Mathews (Mia George) and Inspector Antony (Sreejith Ravi). He investigates about the two murders, and at the same time, a third murder takes place. He has to deal with his own alcoholism along with the memories of the death of his beloved ones, which keep flashing into his mind. He fails to keep them away, as they continues to haunt them along with his love for alcohol, but the man makes great turning points in the case right from the beginning itself. As the murderer captures his victims who look very much as if they are not connected to each other, and tortures them to death, the time is running out for the police force. There is brilliance on both sides, and there remains the question if the hand of the law or the unknown force of evil wins the clash of the titans. As this is an investigative thriller leaning on the suspense factor, anything more might deal a spoiler blow. Meanwhile, look out for Christian imagery and symbolism, that’s all I can say for now.
Prithviraj Sukumaran has had a great time since Ayalum Njanum Thammil. This year he came up with a great performance in what was undoubtedly the best movie of the year – Celluloid. While his Mumbai Police had much critical acclaim, his Bollywood movie Aurangzeb was a movie with a difference and reflected that effort which he has been putting into his job. If the questions are asked if this character is like Mumbai Police‘s Antony Moses, the answer would be a clear no. Sam Alex is clearly superior to Antony Moses, who was an empty shell which was filled only to the disappointment of the viewers. But Sam Alex is a near-perfect dynamic character, more like that Solomon whom Prithviraj portrayed in Vargam. There are not many characters who would seem to exhibit such pain as this one, even as there could be doubts if there is so much of it that the dosage could be decreased. Our protagonist never goes the wrong way, even as he doesn’t go the right path. It has been the right path for our leading actor who had not that effective police roles in The Thriller, Police, Sathyam and Khakhee. Aurangzeb, Mumbai Police and now Memories have brought to us the one man who makes an excellent police officer on screen.
Prithviraj is brilliant right from the beginning. He undergoes that transformation in a grand style, and here is that character which sheds all the power and is left with just intelligence and vulnerability. This is that type of role which brings instant likable element to the character. He is not that police officer who comes out and beats fourty or fifty people up in slow motion, and even makes them falls kilometres apart. The age of such a superhero policeman is over for sure, and what we have here is a more genuine version, and hundred percent better than the one we saw in Mumbai Police. Here, we have a protagonist who can’t shoot down one man, nor can he chase him down. In another parallel world created by the much earlier movies, the hero would have been so untouchable that one gets to be sure about how the world inside the movie is supposed to go on. In such a perfect world, there is no real scope for suspense, even as a few drops can be added according to the availability of some rather less important characters to be murdered. This is not your perfect world of superhero, as the perfection here belongs to Prithviraj, and as a whole, it belongs to our director. Nobody defies gravity and takes the form of flying mutant humans or throws the normality away.
There are the others who add to this normality in the right and the most appropriate manner. The villain is the best of the other guys for sure. Even as the shadow of doubt falls on many people from doctors to policemen, the real killer, the psychopath who is placed against the cop in a game of cat and mouse happens to be a man totally unexpected. Revealing the man would be a cruel thing right now, and I shall control myself from doing the same. But this villain is an excellent choice, as he becomes that psychopath murder who makes a striking impact on the viewers. There was the need for such a villain in Malayalam movies, coming out nowhere to strike with the element of fear and uncertainty. Meghana Raj has a striking effect in the memories, even as she doesn’t really exist during the current timeline displayed in the movie. Mia George’s character has an influential existence throughout the movie, but not that much of a presence on the screen. The veterans Vijayaraghavan and Nedumudi Venu adds to the value of the movie with their usual creative performances as the concerned superior police officer and the caring parish priest. Suresh Krishna is also there with his usual best.
The movie’s surely has a slow first half, but it still remains faster than many other appreciated bad movies like Annayum Rasoolum on any day. The ambience it creates, rules this little world of memories. When Prithviraj walks away right here with his head held high, there is a lot of claps from the audience and Memories is a beautiful, successful experience. It is the result of how well this canvas has been set, and how much mastery can be associated with the protagonist’s depiction. We had the cop age in movies during the time of Suresh Gopi, and this might be a resurrection in a different manner. There was the need for the memories to stay strong to make that inception into our minds, and there has been such a thing indeed. There is a certain amount of neatness maintained throughout, even though some computer imagery used was rather unnecessary. It was good to watch a houseful show in the local theatres on a weekday in the morning, something which has rarely happened. The necessity for a very good thrilling atmosphere has been realized, and one has to thank Jeethu Joseph and Prithviraj Sukumaran for this wonderful piece of art which has come this way.
Release date: 9th August 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Mia George, Meghana Raj, Vijayaraghavan, Rahul Madhav, Suresh Krishna, Sreejith Ravi, Nedumudi Venu, Praveena, Madhupal, Irshad
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.