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Times of India
The film follows a youth named Ravi who travels to the village called Kottoor to trace the history of a man named KTN Kottoor.
Ranjith has a way of switching between periods and placing his characters beyond the confines of time and space. The demonstration of this ability was perceivable in
Palerimanikyam Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha
, a factor that enabled him to condense an extensive narrative and a multitude of characters into a cinematic framework. In '
', an adaptation of T P Rajeevan's '
', Ranjith settles for a sombre structure to tell a story, but without much success. While attempting his best not to document, the direct eschews his intense style of filmmaking.
The film starts with the journey of a blogger Ravi (Dulquer) who sets out in search of the history of a man named KTN Kottoor, a social reformer and an activist, who is believed to have lived during the pre-independence period. The search is to muster facts that could be put together for the play he wants to do on the life of Kottoor. Ranjith chooses a narrative technique where he would blend theatre and cinema and assigns same faces to characters who straddle the past and the present. Comprehension is hardly a challenge here, since there is an evident display of craft and creation of milieu, which lends richness to the plot.
But the purpose becomes self-defeating when the director chooses to clip certain sequences from the past and make it appear in theatre format. In spite of all flair histrionics could provide, the visual deficiency of such scenes leaves chinks in a narrative apparently constructed with so much effort. The flow is disrupted, the appeal wanes and the film slips into a welter of never ending verbal discourse, uttered in a heavy, profound language. After a point this discourse hardly goes beyond the frigidity that encircles the viewer. The drabness in the film seems intentional as if there was a conscious attempt to let the characters walk and talk more than they should. Economy of sequences which Ranjith otherwise brings in so easily is badly missed in this film. Njan, however, stirs with some vigorous, forceful moments captured in all earnestness by Manoj Pillai.
An illicit pregnancy of a lower caste maid is quelled with a potion and her gut-wrenching screams get shrouded by the midnight silence. An old woman with a guilt-soaked conscience finds blood in her arms, a delusional imprint of her wrong-doing. The darkness of an age, where affluence caused affliction and when women seasoned themselves to suffer in silence, weeping away in the corners of mansions comes out not in vivid visuals but vehement dialogues - something Ranjith found surprisingly fit to apply in his narrative. Even the identity crisis of the protagonist looks superficial for his crisis sometimes appears as a convenience to wrap his lustful ways.
Dulquer had put all his heart in the film. He carries off an upright gait being a vibrant reformist and carefully drifts into that aimless shamble during his periods of depravity. Muthumani loudly lays her claim to her character, portraying the aunt of Kottoor, with a restraint that is moving and sometimes extremely disturbing. The film might have lost its cause with its adherence to theatrical ploys, which as independent entities are a treat to watch, but when welded into the film disrupts the narrative.