Cast: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Srindaa
Director: Jean Markose
A lot about what you think of Kuttanpillayude Sivarathri, like every other movie, depends on what you expect, how much you expect. It becomes pleasant when you had gone expecting little, and disappointing otherwise. That’s the obvious intro, said again, for it is true to a large extent. There was not a lot of hype for Kuttanpilla.., except when stories got written about Sayonara, the playback singer known for her slightly western renditions, turning a composer for the movie. She makes a lovely first time composer, going by the way she introduces Kuttanpilla’s large family through a beautiful piece written by Anwar Ali.
Suraj Venjaramood is the soul and body of the movie, no doubt there. He is so made to be Kuttanpilla — the walk, the talk, the impassive face, and just as you remember the cliché of the name, the narrator tells you, he is perhaps the last police constable by the name of Kuttanpilla. What’s peculiar about Kuttanpilla is, as described in Anwar Ali’s words, his strange fondness for the jackfruit tree in the backyard. Pillerekkaal Pillakishtam parambile varikka plaavu (Pilla likes his jackfruit tree more than his children). He has this ongoing tiff with a son-in-law who wants the tree cut to build his house. What you don’t expect is the whole movie revolving around the tree, even the unseen ghosts, only visible to Kuttanpilla.
To like about the movie other than Kuttanpilla, is the whole casualness about it — the in-between ordinary dialogues without punch, the many murmurs — some funny some not, the small tiffs and mocks when relatives come together, the kitchens that automatically turn busy, the easy talk between men.
Quite a lot of new faces surprise you here — the police wife of Kuttanpilla, the sisters and the children, with their merging-easily-into-the-background performances. Srindaa, as one of the daughters, looks a tad typical, but jells well.
The movie turns a bit of a thriller when there are these ghosts, each of whom has a tiny past to tell in between Kuttanpilla’s story. These cuts to the past appear a little jolting, editing a tad affected. How it’s connected to Kuttanpilla, and how he becomes a part of them, comes later. To not tell too much, let’s just say it features a real life tragedy that had shocked the state two years ago.
Here however, the script fails to connect the tragedy to the rest of the story. It’s there, its characters are there, but they seem a separate story. Debutant director Jean Markose could have weaved his threads a tad better. But then he really does make a noticeable first attempt.