RAJA MOVIE REVIEW
by : Behindwoods review board
Mammootty, Sarath Kumar, Manoj
K Jayan, Kanika Subramaniam, Padmapriya,
Thilakan, Jagathi, Sreekumar,
Suresh Krishna, Suman, Linda Arsenio
of the Indian freedom struggle;
the theme has never lost its
appeal and probably never will.
Pazhassi Raja presents an account
of the life, times and struggles
of one of India’s earliest
heroes. The Malayalam original
was released over a month back
in Kerala and has broken almost
every box office record without
showing any sign of slowing
down. It is with quite huge
expectations that the dubbed
version releases in Tamil.
First, the theme itself makes
the film worth more than just
a look. Set in Wayanad (the
northern part of Kerala) in
the late 18th century, the movie
traces the path of Pazhassi
Raja (Mammootty) who showed
the courage to defy the powerful
colonial forces that were threatening
to take over his motherland.
While kingdoms around him were
making hurried alliances with
the foreign forces to avoid
war, and bending to every wish
and whim and rule laid down
by them, Pazhassi Raja felt
it unacceptable that people
who were allowed into the country
for trade should begin to dictate
terms. His defiance obviously
doesn’t go down too
well with the forces and a clash is inevitable.
The colonial forces, armed with guns and
cannons expect to overrun the sword and
spear-wielding army of the Raja. The Raja
does suffer losses, and is eventually forced
to seek refuge in the thick jungles of north
Kerala about which the British don’t
have a clue. But, this is not before the
very core of the British forces has been
shaken by the valiant resistance that was
put up, when they were expecting a meek
surrender in an unevenly matched battle.
In the jungle, with his faithful followers
consisting of his trusted lieutenant Edachena
Kunkan (Sarath Kumar), Pazhassi Raja gathers
his forces for a powerful retaliation. He
finds willing and able allies in the Tribals,
led by Thalakkathu Chanthu (Manoj K Jayan),
who know the jungles like no one else does.
They devise a hitherto untried plan to counter
the firepower of the British, guerilla warfare.
In the thick cover of the jungle, the plan
is perfect as the foreign forces don’t
have a clue about who is hitting them and
from where. It looks as if bow and arrow
might ultimately get the better of the gun.
But, treason lurks and it turns the course
of events. But, the fight is not over yet.
The Raja’s men shall not drop arms
until none of them stands. That is what
Pazhassi Raja is all about, a tale of martyrdom.
As said above, the theme itself makes the
film worth more than just a look. To go
nit picking the faults of such a movie could
amount to a disservice to the sacrifices
that sparked off the struggles that ultimately
earned us our freedom. Yet, from a very
objective point of view it can be said that
the movie is perhaps a trifle too long.
There are places where one feels that the
screenplay (M.T. Vasudevan Nair) could have
been a bit tighter, though it is flawless
for most parts. The climax makes one feel
patriotic with the Raja and his men making
the ultimate sacrifice. The dialogues adapted
to Tamil by Jayamohan convey the right emotions
most of the time. The dubbing from Malayalam
to Tamil has been done without many noticeable
glitches which are commendable considering
that the original uses the more classical,
pure Malayalam of North Kerala in the 18th
century which has very little Tamil influence.
Everyone in the cast has given their heart
to the role. It is not always that an actor
gets such an opportunity. Mammootty lives
the role of Pazhassi Raja. Majestic and
commanding, one of his best performances.
The points when he has to try hard to summon
courage and resilience even in the face
of heavy losses to motivate his forces bring
out the best in the actor. Sarath Kumar
is excellent as Edachena Kunkan. His confrontation
with another regional king and final act
of sacrifice makes a great impression. Manoj
K Jayan too has delivered with distinction.
Padmapriya makes her presence felt in a
challenging role while Kanika is a constant
presence throughout the movie without getting
much of a chance to perform. Senior performers
like Nedumudi Venu, Thilakan and Jagathi
Sreekumar leave their stamp behind in small
but important roles.
Music by Ilayaraja carries the Maestro mark
as usual. Resool Pookutty contributes with
a fine effort, sounds come alive. The camera
effectively captures the green terrain of
Kerala. The film has been made with lots
of effort and planning. One can see it in
the number of extras that have been used
in every scene. The efforts taken by the
cast in the fight sequences impresses.
On the flip side, the nativity factor goes
missing in the Tamil version which is expected.
The costumes, the architecture and everything
are very much characteristic of Kerala and
hearing Tamil dialogues in this setting
takes a bit of getting used to.
Pazhassi Raja is a film that reminds us
of the price at which freedom came. It is
one great effort and definitely needs to
be received with an open mind. A few shortcomings
notwithstanding, it is an opportunity: for
those who know about these heroes to remember
them once again and for those young people
who are yet to hear these names to get to
know about them and their sacrifices. We
would love to see more movies like these.
Its time to remember!
Raja conquers hearts