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Times of India
: The film is based on the life of J C Daniel, the director of Vigathakumaran, the first movie in Malayalam cinema.
, a moving tribute to Malayalam cinema from director Kamal is touching, poetic and immensely powerful. On a sprawling canvas, Kamal diligently recreates an age and fills it with characters who go on to become iconic figures in the history of Malayalam cinema.
Even while drawing the tale of the first movie in Malayalam cinema and its heroine from the novel by Vinu Abraham, Kamal grooms each character carefully. He reserves time and space judiciously to capture the poignant moments of a low-caste girl who is suddenly conferred with an honour to be a heroine and the atrocious outbursts of the podgy men of the upper-class.
The movie begins in the 1920s when J C Daniel (Prithviraj) sets out to produce the first motion picture in Malayalam. He tours around film studios garnering knowledge on cinema and comes back home where he would invest his everything for this film. What awaits him is a bitter turn of fate when his film is doomed and his heroine is banished from her village and a painfully made film gets locked up in a box forever. While following the miserable existence of a man who once dreamt of glory and then got hurled into a ruinous life, Kamal is at once faithful to history and genuinely humane.
: Mamta plays Janet, the caring, supporting wife of Daniel. Kamal then weaves together a series of beautifully constructed sequences where he indulges in a dual process, chronicling history and lending creative touches to make it dramatic (he does both with conviction).
Chandini who plays Rosie, the first heroine of Malayalam cinema is tender, evocative and memorable. Her face is replete with emotions, the subtle shades of pain, the joy of making history and the eventual anguish of a girl driven away into obscurity for no fault of hers.
In between Kamal creates cherishable moments. A dark, roughened face of a girl looks alluring in a broken piece of glass, her face aglow with a bliss, never felt before. On a breezy night, an ailing Daniel is gently stroked by Janet as he imagines the reels of his doomed film on reflections of swaying leaves on the wall.
Cinematographer Venu conjures up visuals that breathe the air of a charming story-teller and a chronicler. Prithviraj can hold this role close to his heart, so can Mamta. The dialect of Prithviraj may seem a bit jarring at times. But he masks it with an over-powering rendition of a character that transforms from youth to an ageing, frail, defeated soul.