Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ഹിസ് ഹൈനസ്സ് അബ്ദുള്ള (His Highness Abdullah) (1990)

Director: Sibi Malayil
Writer:    Lohithadas
Cast:       Mohanlal, Nedumudi Venu, Gautami, Sreenivasan, Thikkurisi
Langauge: Malayalam

The IMBD synopsis of the film is as follows: 'Mohanlal is hired to kill Nedmudi Venu' and that is about it. Hahaha....Nedumudi Venu plays the role of Maharaja Udayavarma, the patriarch of a royal family, who doesn't have any heirs. His other blood relatives are three of his sisters and their respective families who are after his considerable wealth. They decide to hire a contract killer to kill him off when they come to know that, according to his will, some of the property is designated for his step-daughter and, whatever that is due to them will be transferred only after his death. Mohanlal plays the role of Abdullah who masquerades as the killer as he is desperate for money and enters into the good books of the king by displaying his artistic capabilities. As he draws more and more close to the King and accepts to himself that he cannot do the deed, he realizes that he has put himself in a quandary because they can use someone else to kill the king and use him as scapegoat for it. He decides to switch sides. The quote in the poster translates as: 'Bhishma was killed using Shikhandi as a front. Don't become the Shikhandi. This is Kalyug'.

Wikipedia page states that it is a 'musical thriller drama' film. Most of the Indian films can be described as such (one could add action & comedy as well) but I think calling them cinema is bit of a stretch in most cases. But this film can be considered as one of the best example of how you can make a really good one while adhering to Indian cinema sensibilities. The plot is very much basic but people who are involved behind it elevates it to a level that is very much higher than what the plot suggests it to be. Lohithadas-Sibi Malayil combo is famous for their sentimental tragedy films but this one is more of a thriller at its core while having a thick layer of drama, comedy (non- slapstick) and music around it. Raveendran who does the music for the film is my favorite music director from Malayalam and his music which is a big feature of the film represents it best. He is best known for making what seems to be semi-classical music that are also caters to the mainstream. Normally you don't associate semi-classical music with popular cinema but he managed to hit that sweet-spot which satisfies both the puritans and mainstream. All the songs in the film are in context and most of them help in driving the story. One could argue that one or two of them are not really needed but they are so good and picturization of them with Mohanlal as the singer is so great that you don't really mind. There is no other actor who is this perfect in portraying classical singing sequences in films. 

I do think if someone try to make this film with different people involved, it won't be nearly half good as this. It is my favorite film from Sibi Malayil and probably boasts of one of the best OST composed for a Malayalam feature film. It has got a big ensemble cast and it is these exceptional supporting actors who helped in making some of the best Malayalam films in late 80s and early 90s. I really think if these films gets a re-release now, they will do much better than the shit that they serve up these days. It was the highest grosser of 1990 and ran for more than 200 days. It was the first project produced by Mohanlal's 'Pranavam Arts' which went on to produce many good artistic films as well as good commercial ones. It is ironic that his other producing vehicle, Antony Perumbavoor's 'Aashirvad Cinemas', whose first film was 'Narasimham' marked the beginning of definitive decline of Malayalam cinema and its two stalwarts (Mohanlal and Mammootty).

Rating: 5/5