Sunday, April 5, 2015

അന്നയും രസ്സൂലും (Annayum Rasoolum) (2013)

Director: Rajeev Ravi
Writers:  Santhosh Echikkanam, G. Sethunath
Cast:       Fahad Faasil, Andrea Jeremiah, Sunny Wayne

A realistic and practical movie about two lovers from different religions, a Muslim boy Rasool and Christian girl Anna, and life of people around them. The story is told through narration by a marine (Sunny Wayne) who is back home on vacation and ends up playing an important role in the lover's life.

Rajeev Ravi had given an interview recently, in which he stated that films should be made without a script since it is a visual medium. He also castigated Sreenivasan's style of film-making describing it as pandering to society's regressive attitude. Predictably, it invited a big backlash from all and sundry from Malayalam film industry. The interview is a very good read even though I don't agree with his main contention that there is only one way to make good films. It would have saved everyone's time if he had worded it better by saying that such kind of approach is the one he follows without feeling the need to unnecessarily disparage people like Sreenivasan. 

Rajeev Ravi made his directorial debut with 'Annayum Rasoolum'. He made his name as a cinematographer in Hindi film industry and have been a fixture in Anurag Kashyap films off late (Dev D, Gangs of Wasseypur, Bombay Velvet). He uses spot dubbing, which can be very challenging in crowded Indian outdoors, instead of the usual method of dubbing in studios. This was also done for the Malayalam film 'Akam', a favorite of mine from recent years, which gave it a unique feel in terms of sounds to go along with its stunning cinematography. But for Annayum Rasoolum, I found it really hard to follow the dialog while watching it on TV as most of the scenes are filmed outdoors. It seems he is taking it too personally when it comes to his disdain for scripts. I had tried watching it last year much before that controversial interview, but had to turn it off as I couldn't follow what was being said. Today I tried my best and took the following steps: I turned off fan even though it was too fucking hot here, tried all sound modes on my TV before settling on the standard mode (after trying the modes-Movie, Clear Voice and Amplify). It helps that there is minimal dialog in it and practically none for Anna.

One could say that the character Rasool is a bit one-dimensional with his only concern being the romantic interest on Anna. He follows the standard routine associated with such romantic relationships in India- stage one being the creepy stalker, stage two of sending creepy text messages and finally getting his way through somehow. In that sense the film is very realistic. There is no class difference between the two as both are from poor backgrounds but as is the case in plenty of Indian relationships-religion, caste etc do get in  the way.  Anna is vulnerable because of the situation in her home and she finds some solace in her creepy stalker. If you lay out the basic plot of the film it is nothing new but the treatment is refreshingly realistic and atmospherically unique. The title would suggest that the film is centered on these two characters but it spends considerable time on other associated characters which means that the close to 170 minutes running time is well utilized. There have been many films recently set in Fort Kochi/ Mattanchery area and this one is certainly the best portrayal of it. Story takes unexpected turns basically because it doesn't do filmy cliches. It can certainly be considered as one of the best portrayal of typical Indian romance on screen from recent times. It also did well commercially and I wish I had seen it at the cinemas as it would have certainly helped in following the dialog. Songs are also really good and is done in a way that helps in capturing the mood. 

Rating: 4/5