Saturday, July 8, 2017

ടിയാൻ (Tiyaan) (2017)

Director: Jiyen Krishnakumar
Writer: Murali Gopy
DOP: Satheesh Kurup
Cast: Indrajith, Prithviraj, Murali Gopy
Language: Malayalam

Film is set in a UP village, 600 KMs from Badrinath, where the house of a Malayalee vedic preacher (Indrajith) is targeted by a Godman's ashram as it is trying to expand. As more and more villagers starts siding with the Godman and threats turns physical, a mysterious Muslim man (Prithviraj) extends his support and comes in aid.

Murali Gopy's 'Ee adutha kalathu' was a film that I very much enjoyed while I couldn't stand the extremely cartoonish 'Left Right Left', which in my opinion is very much overrated. His father Bharat Gopy, a great Malayalam film actor whose career was cut short after a stroke, was known to be close to the Hindutva right wing group RSS in his later years. Murali Gopy has also been accused of soft Hindutva with EAK having a short scene where they show RSS guys in their knickers doing their morning activities and LRL being very anti-left in its politics. When this was addressed to him, he had quipped that people will change their opinion once they see Tiyaan. I beg to differ after seeing the film.

It is common for Indian films to not take a strong stand against religion and when they do want to address the problems, more often than not they use the proxy of attacking Godmen as a cop out. Amir Khan's PK was also guilty of this. The first half of Tiyaan also proceeds like this and it was quite decent enough while being very unsubtle and cartoonish like LRL. It loses its way completely in the second half with introduction of 'good' Godmen characters and miracles. None can say that they were not warned with the film having the tagline: 'When miracle meets man, epics are born'. It ends up as another retelling of the adage 'Religion is not bad but it is the charlatan followers and Godmen who gives it a bad name'. I, being an atheist, am predisposed to call bullshit on this. But the film is even more problematic as it kind of endorses the caste system and Manusmriti and even has the Muslim character achieving enlightenment after his interactions with some Hindu yogis in the Himalayas (Ghar Wapsi?). When the Yogi advises him to keep his religion as according to him, Islam is a great religion, I was really totally bewildered by the total cringe factor in all this. This film's 'Secularism' reminded me of people sharing the below photo as proof of India's secularism.

As if all the above bullshit was not enough, the film ends with a 'Karan-Arjun' moment. Technical wise, the cinematography is good with some of the non-set sequences in Haridwar and Himalayas being the highlight. I was bemused by the mass action sequences in the trailer but it is justified in the film. Prithviraj's one is a retelling by another character and so exaggeration is acceptable. Editing wise, the length becomes a problem especially in the second half and they could've avoided the elaborate clichéd backstory for Prithviraj's character and kept it mysterious. Performance wise, everyone is good and problems I had with the film is with its content. The scope of the film is ambitious and people should check it out. Sanghis and atheists will probably end up hating it but that still leaves a large target audience for it in Kerala.

Rating: 2/5