What is the movie about? :: In the village of Aruvikkulam, things seem to go on as usual, with the usual incidents and small problems which comes naturally to such an area which is close to the highlands. Anoop (Tovino Thomas) is a former solider who left the army as he was frightening by two deaths at the India-Pakistan border. He had arranged a fake medical certificate for the purpose and tries to go to Middle East to get a job. He has always been afraid that someone would come from Delhi to collect information about him and take him back to the one of the army camps. This leaves him suspicious about Manju (Tanvi Ram) who is appointed at the nearby school after living in the Indian capital for a very long time. The fear is reinforced by his friends who come with a similar idea about the new teacher. But the complicated relationship soon leads to their marriage getting fixed. After leaving the army, Anoop has remained a favourite young man in the village, and this leads to the wedding function being arranged as a grand ceremony.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Nixon (Asif Ali) has always wanted to be a popular model, as he performs in small roles in films and advertisements. He detests the fishing job which is followed by elder brother Winston (Narain) and father Mathachan (Lal). He feels that he does not have anything to do with sea and that catching fish is not his cup of tea. As Nixon falls in love with the daughter of the rich businessman Chandy (Joy Mathew), the future father-in-love makes fun of his modelling job and family background related to fishing, which leads to further conflict between him and his family. Only Chandy’s son Alex (Hari Krishnan), who is also Anoop’s friend shows some interest in the marriage alliance. Meanwhile, the reporter Noora (Aparna Balamurali) is covering news about rivers, floods and droughts on both sides of Western Ghats, and feels that the rain which has caused floods in some areas of Kerala will mean much more in the coming days. She had only previously reported about increasing droughts on the other side of Mullaperiyar.
And what more is to follow with water coming out of everywhere? :: Home Secretary Shaji Punnoose (Kunchacko Boban) also feels that they needs to be prepared. He had only recently built a new house, and has fear for the safety of his own lands too. Rameshan (Vineeth Sreenivasan) who is working in Abu Dhabi is arranging a job for Anoop there, and is returning home due to his mother landing in the hospital, but the airplane is diverted from Cochin to Coimbatore because of the bad weather. His problems with his wife Anupama (Gauthami Nair) have reached the peak, closing in on divorce. Koshy (Aju Varghese) is struggling to make a trip happen with the two Polish tourists whom he wished to take to Cherai, Fort Cochin, Aleppey and Munnar, but the plans get foiled due to one problem or the other caused by the continuous rain. There is news about multiple low-pressure areas formed in the Arabian Sea which could turn into cyclones. The dams in the state are almost completely filled and needs to be opened. There seems to be something terrible awaiting most of the areas of Kerala, and it is worse than what they had imagined.
The defence of 2018 :: The movie, along with finding the right members of the cast for even supporting roles, thrives with the moments which it had recreated from the 2018 Kerala Floods, which formed the most devastating series of disasters in the state’s history. The scenes like fishermen coming to the rescue as a selfless act and the helicopter rescue are some of the most memorable moments which we take back from our memories. For some people, these calamities might have been just random news, but for those who were most affected by it would feel this differently and strongly. What Jude Anthany Joseph has managed is to come up with the struggles during the flood not as someone who views from outside, but as a person who has been part of it. The visual effects look nice on the screen, and is a fine step which can be followed while making disaster movies. The emotional side of the movie remains really strong, as the humanity and hopelessness displayed here feels so real, and this could be the tale of flood not only in Kerala, but also somewhere else, as natural disasters limit the division between people and brings them together in hope for a better world.
Positives and negatives :: The movie’s first half might feel too calm for the viewers, and it is also a short time period before the interval, after which the movie gains in length and comes up with the scenes of interest. It could feel like a little bit too much of time taken for people’s liking. There are surely those moments which could have been explored more, but while creating a world which incorporates so many elements, we just cannot ask to bring the focus to everything. There is the feeling that keeps this close to Virus, another film which showed how Kerala fought against the epidemic of Nipah. Virus was quick to get into action and keep the focus on the core at all times, even though both movies are of almost same length. There are also a number of main actors like Tovino Thomas and Kunchacko Boban who are common to both movies, and there is the realistic touch that remains in both cases. During these days when there is too much of heat, and with similar rain feeling too far away, one might have the feeling of safety again, but one has to remember that this can repeat, and the same heroes, including the selfless fishermen who keep losing everything will come back to save us. The movie’s dedication to them is indeed splendid, as we keep the saviours in our prayers.
The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas plays the one true heroic figure in this movie, as he evolves into the saviour without the superhero powers of Minnal Murali. This would be his new highest grosser, going past last year’s Thallumaala. In his hundredth movie, Kunchacko Boban also gets to the hundred crore club after Nna Thaan Case Kodu success, and his role, even though smaller in magnitude, remains of strength. Asif Ali plays the one character that has undergone the most transformation in this film, and he does that without any problem. Lal remains a strong presence as the fatherly figure and fisherman who cares for his children as well as the people around him. Narain’s presence in Malayalam has been too less in the recent years, but his another notable return can be seen here, and he performs really well in this particular role. Sudheesh and Indras come up with emotional performances and shines as the veterans as they have always been. Tanvi Ram is the most notable among lady leads, while we feel that Aparna Balamurali who appeared in the beginning with so much potential was wasted. The sub-plot with Kalaiyarasan-Vineeth Sreenivasan-Gauthami Nair feels forced, even with good performances. Gilu Joseph and Hari Krishnan provides good support too.
How it finishes :: The movie works well as a homage to the many heroes who became part of the rescue operations during the devastating flood in Kerala, and brings the memories of those days right back to us. It would be the most effective for anyone who was in Kerala during this period of time. Good disaster movies have been rare in Indian cinema, and we have had to look towards Hollywood to bring some classic natural disaster on the big screen. But this movie makes sure that there is a better chance for success here. As the highest grossing Malayalam movie of the year, the film has made sure that the industry has managed to gain its life back, as it was Romancham which made the most money during this year – it would have been a surprise for the superstars. Well, a movie which had everyone uniting and becoming heroes to save their world is something that would be supported by everyone, and that explains the fine collections in the theatre. If any of the survivors who came directly out near-death situations watched this movie, they will know how this is a movie which should be cherished for long against the tides of time. Considering its run with audience still very much present for the shows, it is capable of overtaking the collections of Lucifer and Pulimurugan.
Release date: 5th May 2023
Running time: 154 minutes
Directed by: Jude Anthany Joseph
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Tovino Thomas, Asif Ali, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Lal, Narain, Tanvi Ram, Vinitha Koshy, Joy Mathew, Indrans, Renji Panicker, Hari Krishnan, Sudheesh, Aju Varghese, Kaliyarasan, Gauthami Nair. Sshivada, Aparna Balamurali, Siddique, Janardhanan, Jaffar Idukki, Gilu Joseph, Sreejith Ravi, Rony David, Kalabhavan Haneef, Karunan Pauly Valsan, Shebin Benson, Shobha Mohan, Sreeja Ravi, Boban Samuel, Santhakumari
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