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Times of India
: Salim Ahamed's Pathemari tells the story of Pallikkal Narayanan who, as a teenager, is forced to leave to the Emirates and spends almost his entire life sacrificing his wishes so his family can lead a better life back home.
: There's a scene in Pathemari where the protagonist Pallikkal Narayanan, portrayed brilliantly by Mammootty, is in the Gulf on a phone call with his family members back home who are busy with a wedding preparation. The scene shows his elation on overhearing people back home talk about his sons, the wedding and later, the feeling of homesickness and loneliness that sets in after hanging up. It perfectly summarizes what expatriates, who had slaved most of their lives in the Middle East, go through when they get in touch with relatives.
Salim Ahamed's film may have a familiar plot but it's so honestly told that a viewer empathizes with Narayanan's character, who is torn between his wishes and those of his family. Pathemari is a tale of sacrifice - a seemingly never-ending one for a Gulf Malayali in the 80s. The director has made sure to steer clear of cliches to paint a picture of how life was for those who made the gruelling voyage to the shores of UAE to earn a living in the desert.
Madhu Ambat's cinematography during the initial credits montage shows Dubai like never before on Malayalam screen. His frames of the past and present have a life of their own, with the earlier phases of Narayanan's life shown with a tinge of colour that slowly fades to grey as they approach the latter half of his life - indicative, perhaps, of how hope is drained when one spends so much time sacrificing oneself for others.
Pathemari has Mammootty proving why he is a genius when it comes to evoking empathy from the viewers with his masterful performance. Jewel Mary, Sreenivasan, Joy Mathew and Shaheen Siddique play their parts well but it is Siddique as Lanchi Velayudhan who steals the show despite his limited screen time.