Tuesday, November 17, 2015

വടക്കുനോക്കിയന്ത്രം (Vadakkunokkiyantram) (1989)

Director: Sreenivasan
Writer:    Sreenivasan
Cast:       Sreenivasan, Parvathy, Innocent
Language: Malayalam

A man with a serious case of inferiority complex, Thalathil Dineshan (Sreenivasan), is married to a beautiful girl, a girl whom he considers to be way out of his league. Soon, his love and care turns into suspicion. 

It is a common refrain that Sreenivasan is someone who made money by selling his inferiority complex for films. While he has written for many directors there are only two films for which he took up the role of director as well and Vadakkunokkiyanthram (Compass) is the first one of those two. The second one is 'Chinthavishtayaya Shyamala' which came out it 1998. Both of these films are rightly considered as classics of Malayalam cinema marrying comedy and topic seriousness in a perfect manner. The films he did with his frequent collaborator, Sathyan Anthikkad, tended to be social commentaries while these two films that he directed were much more inward looking in terms of depicting its central character. The title of the film refers to Dineshan's propensity to react to all things in the film's story-line by orienting towards his inferiority complex and suspicion just like a Compass, which always orient towards north.  

The film is laced with high quality comedy, like you would expect in a Sreenivasan film, and can be classed as a cringe-comedy, a genre in which the likes of Ricky Gervais is an expert. The character, Thalathil Dineshan, and his antics has been part of Kerala pop-culture as its very meme-worthy as well as highly quotable. His is a very exaggerated portrayal and one might raise an eye-brow at the convoluted ways in which his mind goes. When you think the film is ending with a very cliched happy ending, he gives a nod to horror films by suggesting a relapse into his old self for the character. 

To sum up, it is a great watch but I do consider his second effort as director to be the superior one out of the two. Many of the characters introduced from the midway of the film serves just as plot devices and he managed to create a richer universe around the central character in 'Chinthavishtayaya Shyamala'. 'Thalayanamanthram', which came out a year later, could be classed as a sister film to this one. 

Rating: 4.5/5