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Finally saw the Malayalam film “Premam”, I’ve been hearing about it from friends and also read that it’s the 2nd highest grossing film ever in Malayalam, and wanted to check it out for a while now. While watching, and even after I finished watching it, I was waiting for that ‘great’ feeling to hit me, but nothing! Then I realized, that’s the ‘great’ness of the movie. It didn’t feel like I was watching a great film, rather listening to a friend recount his escapades with love over drinks. Some people have compared the movie to ‘Autograph’, but if you compare Autograph to Premam, Autograph would feel like an overacted preachy movie with a message, in the decade since Autograph released, our tastes have changed, and no fault of Autograph, it’s the movie of the oughts (00’s) and Premam is the new age version of Autograph. Premam has brilliantly portrayed the various types of attractions a man (the movie is told from the viewpoint of a man, so, let’s stick to that) feels like puppy love, infatuation, emotional love throughout his life. Fortunately the movie doesn’t explore lust or forbidden love etc. It so easy to enjoy this movie because it’s easy to identify with the characters. The best part of the movie is that it avoids caricatures of hero’s father, mother and sister and just focuses on the main narrative. The one scene where hero’s father appears is so off-handedly beautiful you have to hand it to the script writers to giving us a ‘fresh’ script sans clichés. The movie is funny without trying too hard. In fact, so much of the dialogue in the film is rendered to the background, although you hear it, it will take you a minute after the scene is over to reminisce and laugh at the jokes.

The casting takes the cake in this film, if you look at 3 actresses that play hero’s love interests, they appear so ordinary yet sweet. In any other language, (certainly in Telugu or Hindi) they won’t be cast as ‘heroines’. The film doesn’t cast some beautiful actresses and ask you to believe they are ordinary because of their roles, rather, director Alphonse Puthiren picked 3 ordinary looking girls and asks you to love them. Sai Pallavi, who played Malar will stay with you for some time, the way she exudes grace and confidence is very refreshing and captivating. Nivin Pauly who played the protagonist gets better with every movie, I liked him in Bangalore Days, here he owns the movie from start to finish and the subtle differences in his acting, body language, exuberance and dialog delivery that he shows at various stages of his life is amazing. The supporting cast, with their mere presence in every frame, adds texture and character to the movie without over acting, the editing and dialogues are so natural, only if you stay for the final credits scene you’ll realize there were so many characters in the movie. Vinay Fort who played ‘Vimal Sir’ deserves special mention, if you search Youtube with the phrase ‘Premam Vimal Sir’, you’ll see how much of a following he garnered with a 2 minute comedy scene, even here the brilliance of the movie is that not highlighting the comedy as a special offering rather blend it into the narrative. If you went to college to study tech, you would have encountered at least 1 lecturer like Vinay Fort. His feeble attempts to impress Malar (he too gets smitten by her charm just like our hero of the story) are hilarious but they are relegated to the background as per Indian cinema dictum.

Music and cinematography are subtle and underhanded, and of course as in any self-respecting Malayalam cinema, the settings and props are minimal. Alphonse Puthiren (who has a cameo in the film) handled the writing and directing and editing as well, and made sure that the overall effect of the film is so natural and breezy, you’ll come to love the tale he has spun. The film can’t be really classified into anything: It has class, mass, songs, dance, love, it could be called a Masala, but that would be insulting so I will content myself and call it a feel-good movie.

I hope the success of the film doesn’t give any ideas to other language film makers to remake this movie because they will definitely screw it up, it’s very hard to replicate the nativity of the movie, it’s not a film like Drishyam where the story and screenplay so powerful, you can bring in good actors and remake it, the magic of Premam is simplicity and its achieved organically rather than forced. A heavy handed approach in any other language will definitely be a formula for failure.

Bhaskar Gandavabi
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