What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of Iyob (Lal) and his three sons, Dimitri (Chemban Vinod Jose), Ivan (Jinu Joseph) and Aloshy (Fahadh Faasil). Iyob was a young local boy who became the right-hand of Harrison (Sal Yusuf), one of the British people who established homes in Munnar, but he managed to rise after his death and had become the most powerful and the influential man in the area. Due to the commanding nature of his father and the atrocities of his brothers which are covered up with money, Aloshy leaves home and joins the Royal Navy from where he is dismissed as a result of a mutiny, which leads him back home. There, his troubles with his brothers begin, and Iyob is infuriated by his lack of obedience and also lack of display of admiration for his father, for which he disinherits him, and his brothers attack him and leaves him for dead. But Iyob doesn’t really know his other sons yet, and an enemy called Angoor Rawther (Jayasurya) shall soon come up.
The defence of Iyobinte Pusthakam :: Iyobinte Pusthakam is brilliant, and amazing beyond words in its visual splendour – it is something that we might have never seen before in Indian cinema, and one can get a peek at the same by just looking at the trailer – the complete stuff is a lot bigger and highly extravagant in its visuals. What you see in the posters are made a lot better in this movie, and not the other way around. The movie’s use of history and the variety in settings are also something to cheer about. We rarely have such good period thrillers in Malayalam, and even in Bollywood. The only things related to history that we have these days are related to killing white people – are we so much out of ideas that we have to talk about one thing again and again? No, not all, says Amal Neerad who has come up with his magnum opus here, which tells the story of the people of the land during the British rule and after, combining history and fiction. You can appreciate this one as long as you have the ability for the same.
Positives and negatives :: The movie might still be slow for a few, but I will say that there is absolutely no drag, and it is achieved by the beauty of the visuals – it is no bloody useless drag like Annayum Rasoolum, I can assure you that; this is more of a Left Right Left of this year. As you enter the world of unparalleled visual beauty, what you want might not be the story. The plot might look ordinary, but it is never about the story. Do watch and get taken into this amazing world, and the first movie from Amal Neerad that I liked – and this is one big like for him! Yes, I have never liked Big B, Sagar Alias Jacky, Anwar and Bachelor’s Party, and you fan-boys and girls can dislike me for the same. Interstellar was just a story that could never happen, but this one is a story of humanity in real, and it is up-to you to choose the one that you wish for this weekend, as both are for entirely different set of minds! Our Malayalam critics will never rate a movie from Kerala high, so just the “very good” rating for this movie would mean “out of this world”.
Performances of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is nothing less than brilliant here, as he has another feather in the cap here. It is amazing how he has managed to thrive under almost every circumstance that has been put before him. How good can he be? We can never know the limits of his abilities as it seems. Lal is also nothing less than the powerful and later the helpless figure that he is supposed to be – there is nobody other who can be this character. Chemban Vinod Jose and Jinu Joseph are also good and the former is extremely efficient at times Isha Sharvani is extremely beautiful and suited for the role with her looks alone, otherwise she has much less to do; but that has still worked well for the character. Jayasurya is one impressive villain too, as he becomes the smiling assassin here. Padmapriya as Rahel also scores, coming out nowhere. Vinayakn is also nice. The characterization is so powerful and they nicely blend into the strength of visual beauty and that nice background score. I shall leave with some more thoughts below.
Soul exploration 1 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as King Lear :: Iyobinte Pusthakam is a lot like King Lear or a loose adaptation from the same – it is as much of Shakespeare as Haider is Hamlet, and it has nicely used the setting to support the same. Iyob is King Lear who divides his kingdom among two sons, disinheriting the third, and in the end, it turns out that he was always the righteous and the loving one who comes out to help the father. Goneril, Regan and Cordelia are all here, and there is the Earl of Kent who is joins with the villains this time as Lazar. Rahel does the job of Edmund here, standing between the two sons and making one kill the other. Meanwhile, going outside the play, Martha becomes the lady love that every movie needs, and Angoor Rawther is just the villain that every story should have. There are also those moments when Iyob seems to be descending into madness, and Oswald is also there, as the man who tries to kill our hero and gets himself killed. Also check for the The Brothers Karamazov kind of characters with the same names.
Soul exploration 2 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as the Parable of the Prodigal Son :: Iyob himself mentions Aloshy as prodigal son when he returns from the navy, and the church priest mentions that he is to be given a warm welcome if it is so, just like in the Holy Bible. But here, Aloshy is not the prodigal son, but rather the lost son, who returns after gaining wisdom rather than losing money, and this illusion of the gone son being the prodigal son is directly reversed in this movie without any complication. But considering a few other cases, he is indeed unemployed and without money compared to what he has at his own home which was left behind. The money that he extravagantly spent are the years of his life, and the time which he should have spent with his family. The father does accept his son, but once again, the elder brothers don’t. The movie’s use of the dialogues about the parable gives us this idea.
Soul exploration 3 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as the Biblical story of Job :: The main character of the movie is Iyob or Job even as the hero is Aloshy. Even as our character here doesn’t have the qualities of a righteous man, he is also someone who losses almost everything that he holds dear, and it includes his own children, his property, and up-to an extent, his health. But the answer to his problems is achieved sooner here, in the form of his earlier lost son Aloshy. During his last moments, he holds onto the cross and gives it to his son, something which he already had, but rarely mentions as his baptism was nothing that he or his people wanted. It is his faith in God that is replenished in his final moments, and even as there is no redemption like that of the Biblical Job here, he does manage to die a good person rather than the evil feudal lord that he had been.
*This is the finest movie of the year from India, among all those which I have watched. Don’t miss this one! It is out of the usual league. It also leaves us with thoughts about the oppressed becoming the oppressor when opportunity arises, and also with a message on equality among the masses.
Release date: 7th November 2014
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Isha Sharvani, Lal, Jayasurya, Padmapriya, Chemban Vinod Jose, Reenu Mathews, Jinu Joseph, Vinayakan, Lena Abhilash, T. G. Ravi, Sreejith Ravi, Shebin Benson, Saritha Kuku, Nebish Benson, Sal Yusuf, Aashiq Abu (cameo), Amala Paul (cameo)
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.