Saturday, April 30, 2016

കിരീടം (Kireedam) (1989)

Director: Sibi Malayil
Writer:    Lohithadas
Cast:       Mohanlal, Thilakan, Mohan Raj (Keerikkadan Jose)
Language: Malayalam

The life of a young man turns upside down when he intervenes in a fight in order to rescue his father (a cop) from a ruthless local Gunda (outlaw). The title of the film translates as crown and refers to the fact that the villagers sees the fight as the handing over of the crown from the old Gunda to the new one. 

When searching for a poster for Naduvazhikal, I had come across the one on the left. It is really difficult to fathom that such two films would have come in within the space of a month in Malyalam and, I guess, those were the days. Kireedam is a film that you would not want to watch again because it is kind of Kerala's 'Hamlet' in terms of it being the ultimate tragedy. I think I saw it for the last time when I was less than 10 years old and it had a lasting effect because it also affected me while watching another film. I thought the same named character in 'In Harihar Nagar' to be also the same man and his fate in that film is also quite tragic. After having decided to give it a go, in order to actually gauge the merit of this film, I couldn't help but notice the 'same but not quite same' aspects of this film when compared with Naduvazhikal. Both sons get into these unwanted positions quite reluctantly because of their respective fathers and the reaction from their their dads are quite the opposite. Sethumadhavan is quite apologetic as he begins to excel inadvertently in his new role while Arjun becomes quietly confident. Both films are marked by iconic last sequence fights but Sethumadhavan's one is about survival while Arjun is in it for revenge. Both of them ends up in jail.

I really don't class 'Kireedam' as one of the best efforts from Sibi Malayil-Lohithadas combo. If you add Mohanlal to this, I actually prefer both 'His Highness Abdullah' and 'Dasharatham' to it. Kireedam is a bit manipulative and some of its side characters, especially Sethumadhavan's family and relatives, are kind of half-baked and cliched. What really elevates the film to greatness is really the tour-de-force performance from Mohanlal, amply supported by Murali and Thilakan. Mohan Raj's role as Keerikkadan Jose is so iconic that I only found out about his actual name today only. The rawness of the last fight and Mohanlal's mannerisms are so good that every Malayalee will have a little cry after watching the film's ending no matter how many times you have seen it.I guess you have to class such a film as great despite its flaws leading up to it. Film has been remade to other different languages, with a very low degree of success, and it is safe to say that it was Mohanlal who made this average material into a great film. He only got a special jury mention at the National awards where he lost out to Mammootty for 'Oru Vadakkan Veeraghada' and 'Mathilukal'.

Rating: 4/5