Monday, February 6, 2017

ചെങ്കോൽ (Chenkol) (1993)

Director: Sibi Malayil
Writer: Lohithadas
DOP: Venu
Cast: Mohanlal, Thilakan, Surbhi Kaveri Vyas, Shanthikrishna
Language: Malayalam

Chenkol continues the story of Sethumadhavan's life after his prison term as he tries to get back into the society.

Malayalees should rename Murphy's law as Sethumadhavan's law because whatever can go wrong will go wrong when it comes to this character. It is a character which all Malayalees loathe to revisit unless one is really into sadomasochism. I had recently revisited Kireedom after a long time and found it to be an average to good film elevated to greatness by its latter half, especially the last 20 or so minutes. When Chenkol came four years later, it didn't do very well at box office supposedly and I guess Malayalees are not sadomasochistic much. Prithvitaj had recently described Chenkol as the most underrated sequel in Malayalam and rated Mohanlal's performance as even better than that in Kireedom. I do think both films are at a similar level and still rate Mohanlal's performance in Kireedom at a higher level because his portrayal of utter bewilderment as his life fall aparts suddenly was much more novel and let's not even go into the climax fight.

The film begins with a montage of scenes flashback to Kireedom during opening credits culminating with the climax sequence of Sethumadhavan killing Keerikkadan Jose which earns him his jail term. In Kireedom, our focus was chiefly on the plight of Sethumadhavan and we don't think much of the consequences to other characters in the film. Chenkol is mostly about that as he learns about them, like us, after his jail term. He is back in Ramapuram and it is the same Keerikkadan family that he has to contend with. Some of the exposition scenes and newly made Keerikkadan flashbacks are quite badly done and you kind of raise eyebrows when Keerikkadan Jose's step-daughter angle is opened up. But the film manages to tide over that as Sethu decides to embrace his crown by twirling his moustache. He has done many meeshapiriyan larger than life roles but the one in Chenkol is the most cathartic because he has totally earned it. But that is short-lived because Sethumadhavan's law again kicks back into action.

Overall it is a worthy follow-up to Kireedom but you do know what to expect when it comes to Sibi Malayil and his blatant tear-jerkers. I rate Sibi Malayil films like Dasharatham and His Highness Abdullah higher than the kind of films for which he is famous for. One criticism that could levelled is that Sethumadhavan in Chenkol is portrayed as a flawless personality while the one in Kireedom is a bit more three dimensional.

PS: I do recognise the contribution of online trolls to Kerala society but they kind of spoil your film watching experience because of their heavy usage of iconic scenes, expressions and one liners from Malayalam cinema. I laughed out loud when the below scene came up. You see the irony, I'm using a troll image of the said scene.

Rating: 3.5/5