Tuesday, November 11, 2014

നമുക്കു പാർക്കാൻ മുന്തിരിത്തോപ്പുകൾ (Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal) (1986)

Director: P. Padmarajan
Writers:  P. Padmarajan, K. K. Sudhakaran (Story)
Cast:       Mohanlal, Shari, Thilakan, Vineeth
Language: Malayalam

A beautiful and well-told love story of of a guy who falls in love with the newly moved neighbor girl. But the girl's situation was worst than he thought when he finds that the man who was told to be her father was her step-father.

Film is set in Mysore, Karnataka and the title translates as 'Vineyards for Us to Dwell In' . If you go just by synopsis, it will look like a 'Painkili' story from a Malayalam weekly but in Padmarajan's hands it is just something else. The film stands out basically because of the understated acting and mannerisms. The extra members in Solomon's (Mohanlal) household are characters that many of us would find living in our house at some point of time. Antony (Vineeth) is a college student who is staying in his aunt's house far away from his home. Mary is some distant relative with a tragic past staying in the house and family sort of accepts her into the fold as she is keeping company to the old mother.  The film only consists of a very few characters but the relationships between all the characters, not just the main ones, are properly developed. Most of us would relate most to Antony, who looks up to his much elder cousin Solomon. This is a relationship that is common in majority of Padmarajan-Mohanlal films where Mohanlal plays the cool guy (Thoovanathumbikal & Season being the other two am referring to). Thilakan plays the character of step-father who metes out step-fatherly treatment and even some more to Sophia (Shari), Solomon's love interest. It is another great performance from Thilakan.

I saw the film for the first time some four years back with some friends. We all loved it then and were egging Solomon not to do some silly revenge thing at the end of it, which would have been the path most filmmakers would have taken. Even though I immensely enjoyed it first time round I really didn't think it will be worth a re-watch, and I was wrong. The usage of lines from Solomon's songs in Bible would have been not this good but for the fact that it is Mohanlal who is delivering it. Padmarajan is someone who uses songs and theme music really well to add to the story.  Padmarajan, being a writer-director, is a rare breed in Malayalam cinema. But unlike his most other films which were based on his own writings, this one is a loose adaptation of K.K. Sudhakaran's novel. It is shame that the visual quality of the print that they have preserved is not very good which is true for many films from those times.

Overall the film is a great watch and it is such a simple story very well-told with a great atmosphere. At 137 minutes, it is comparatively a shorter length film by Indian standards. It seems 1986 was a very busy year for Padmarajan with five releases. He directed eighteen films over twelve years from 1979 to 1991 and I have so far seen ten of them. When you put those numbers into context you can see why he is considered to be the greatest Malayalam film director. The ones that I haven't seen are mostly his earlier works.

Rating: 4.5/5