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Times of India
: The film is an exploration of the emotional psyche of a percussion artist and his quest for love and art in life.
is a stretched out, hypnotic narrative that progresses with a person's artistic fulfilment and emotional anguish. It's about a percussionist who sways between a feverish quest for art and an aimless pursuit of love. While spreading out a maddening mosaic of love, passion, art and turbulence, Shaji N Karun wilfully administers a sedative languor to the film.
Unnikrishnan, played by Jayaram, has to deal with a mind that wobbles on the brink of delirium. He has long curls and restive fingers, his persona is a mirage that flits away into far realms irretrievably with every moment. He runs his fingers along the body of his partner like he taps on his percussion instrument. When he presses himself against his partner, his face is aglow not with searing desire, but with a contentment that plays on the face of an artist at the end of a masterful rendition.
Deep inside his strife-torn self, he is searching for his identity as he carries the stigma of being an illicit child. There is a woman who stirs him deeply with her expressions of art and passion. When implored, he pains her deeply so that she remembers him, he makes love to her so that she finds her own fulfilment.
For all its intensity portraying life of a chenda artiste, Swapaanam digresses too far, sketching more and more characters and wandering incoherently between the present and the past. Often, the plot is a blurred, incomplete dream with the characters ambling around as though in a never-ending haze.
Unni and his lover Nalini (Kadambari) exchange words that are profoundly poetic and unceasingly philosophical, but rarely human. Kadambari's portrayal appears strained, taking away the subtlety of Nalini's romance with Unni. Beyond a point, the film drags on aimlessly, the characters wandering in search of a final resting place.
Siddique lends brilliance to Narayanan Namboothiri, a weird, honest man who has a taste for art and astrophysics. His presence will be remembered for the exceptional manoeuvring of his vocals and his facial expressions.