A still from ‘Pookkalam’ | Photo Credit: Saregama Malayalam/YouTube
Happiness is Ganesh Raj’s calling card; One would struggle to find a sadder moment in his work. Behaving in a light-hearted manner will make even the biggest crisis seem irrelevant. In the world he imagines, warm colors emanate from every second frame. Light, feel-good music plays in the background. Tears are mostly of happiness, not sadness. For that matter, the title of his first film was the same Anandam (Happiness).
Whereas Anandam was set around a group of youngsters on a trip to college, in their second pookkalam, it is the older generation – a couple who are nearly a hundred years old and have been married for eighty years – who take center stage. On the day of his granddaughter Elsie’s (Ann Antony) engagement, Etoop (Vijayaraghavan) accidentally discovers an old letter written fifty years ago. The letter threatens to cloud the happy occasion, causing the family’s buried secrets to surface
director: Ganesh Raj
mold: Vijayaraghavan, KPAC Leela, Annu Antony, Basil Joseph, Vineet Srinivasan, Arun Kurien, Jagadish
Order: 137 minutes
Story: An old letter received on the day of his granddaughter’s engagement disturbs Ittup’s peace, revealing his family’s best-kept secret
The novel’s theme is what drives much of the film, but Ganesh, who has also written its screenplay, makes sure it doesn’t tread on territories that are too hot to handle, leaving the film feeling out of place every time. Buses stop when threatened to leave – good area. Well, playing to your strengths is not wrong. This is the kind of material that could have ended up as a heartbreaking story if handled by someone else.
more of pookkalam The present focuses on the warm relationship between Ittup and his wife Kochuthresia (KPAC Leela) and the large extended family surrounding them. Still, the timeline shifts back to the early days of their struggles and personal losses, which gives us an idea of how this crisis will affect the close-knit family. The crisis also sheds light on the untoward incidents that people deliberately forget to keep the ship running smoothly. Those who appear to be temperate in their old age must have done terrible things in the past. At one point, Kochuthresia ominously tells Ittup, “We have been living in this house for eighty years. If we go deeper here, we may find uncomfortable things.”
Ganesh tries to quickly balance each emotional moment with a light-hearted sequence, some working and some not. For instance, the running gag about a junior advocate (Basil Joseph) and his old friend (Vineeth Srinivasan), who is now a judge, feels a bit forced. Despite all the young cast of actors around them, Vijayaraghavan and KPAC Leela grabbed headlines with their moving performances as a couple facing a crisis late in life. In moments when he behaves harshly, Vijayaraghavan brings back memories of his father NN Pillai’s iconic character ‘Anjooran’. Godfather,
pookkalam A feel-good family entertainer with a novel theme that ends largely and predictably.
Pookkalam is currently running in theaters