Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Munroe Island (മണഡ്രോ തുരുത്ത്) (2016)

Director: Manu
Writer: Manu
DOP: Prathap P. Nair
Cast: Indrans, Jason Chacko, Abhija, Alancier Lay
Language: Malayalam 

Keshu, a wayward and mentally quite unstable teenager, and his father comes to their native village Munroe Thuruthu, an island village, where his grandfather lives in their ancestral home with Kathu, the maid. Father wants to take his son for proper psychological treatment while grandfather insists that he is quite normal and some time spent in the village will do him a world of good. Things don't go exactly according to grandfather's plan.

When the grandfather takes father and son to their home on first day, they reach a point from which two roads begin. Grandfather then tells the quite famous riddle of one road going to hell and other to complete freedom and a pathological liar being the only one who could help you find which road is the correct one to take but you can ask him only one question. So the trick is to frame the question in such a way that you could figure out the road from the fact that liar will always tell a lie. The basis of the film, we come to know by end, is this riddle as the grandson claims to have done or planning to do very bad deeds and we and the grandfather are not sure how much of it is true.

Going by the initial premise of the film one would think that it is another redemptive story where the goodness of village is the catalyst for redemption. We are used to films in Malayalam where the protagonist will have some redeeming in the end no matter how bad their characteristics are. The film plays on both of these by going in the opposite manner by keeping us always guessing and without having any sort of resolution at the end. The central plot point of the film revolves around the relation of the three men with Kathu. You cannot really pinpoint the exact nature of these relationships as the only basis for us is based on what the grandson thinks and he is not a reliable figure for us to conclude anything.

This film can be considered as polar opposite to both Rajeev Ravi's 'Njan Steve Lopez' and Padmarajan's 'Moonnam Pakkam'. At a macro level the premise of the film is quite similar to Moonnam Pakkam but the treatment and reverence of its characters are truly opposite. Steve Lopez was a naïve teenager who revolted against the corruption of adults. But in this film it is the older generation who are portrayed as naïve or acting naïve while the new generation calls out on them by exhibiting some extremely bad behaviour. Again, we are not sure whether the grandfather is acting naïve.

It is overall a great watch and works very well as a psychological thriller. It is the second film to be presented by Aashiq Abu after the excellent 'Ozhivudivasathe Kali' but this one got a very limited release with it playing in just two screens. That is a shame because this one could have done very well at the box office since Malayalees are quite fond of psychological thrillers/horror.  Performances from all concerned are good and at 92 minutes, the film is quite rightly edited.

Rating: 4/5