Tuesday, May 31, 2016

ഉത്തരം (Utharam) (1989)

Director: Pavithran
Writers:  M. T. Vasudevan Nair, Daphne du Maurier
Cast:      Mammootty, Sukumaran, Parvathi, Suparna
Language: Malayalam

One fine morning, not any different from every other day, a promising poet shoots herself. Leaving no trace of motive, her husband's best friend and journalist, Balu embarks on a journey to find the truth.

The film is an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's short story called 'No Motive'. Since it doesn't have a wiki entry, I cannot really comment on whether they deviated too much from its plot. In general, film adaptations work best when the source material is a short story rather than a novel because more often than not, it will involve some universe expansion through adaptation. When it is from a novel, plenty of things get lost due to the constraints of the medium which normally means length limitation and also inner thoughts through perspective narration. I haven't seen any of MT's works quite recently and plan to explore it further, especially with his films that are set in contemporary times (not a big fan of Malayalam period films). He was a formidable force in Malayalam film industry, during what was considered as its peak, and him and Padmarajan were two blokes who came into it from a literature background though both were from very different generations. Unlike Padmarajan, he largely restricted himself into script writing and directed only a few films.

Coming back to the film at hand, it is an excellent watch and can be considered as a mystery thriller which moves at a very leisure pace. Mammootty is at his best when he plays polished intellectuals, like he does in this film, or boastful and insecure rich guys (വേദനിക്കുന്ന കോടീശ്വരൻ). As he begins investigating her past life, the things gets pieced together only gradually and there is no big twist or anything or what can be considered as twists does't feel like them because the film develops in such a fashion. I would have preferred a slightly different and less conclusive ending, with something just triggering a memory from her past instead of the improbable meeting that the film has now (I mean what are the chances !!). They could have taken the easy way out by leaving Parvathi's character out from the unfortunate incident but they quite bravely opt to give some sort of ambiguity to her plight and her memories. It is a great watch with excellent performances from all concerned.

PS: Malayalam filmmakers really knew how to do mystery genre right during those days and these days, it just means shitty twists and lengthy expositions at the end....

Rating: 4.5/5