In the small town of Angamaly in Kerala, Vincent Pepe dreams of the day he can be the leader of a gang. He starts a pork business as a stepping stone to greater butchery. Meat is all very good but does Vincent have the mettle? A packed hall at India Habitat Centre followed the adventures of Vincent as a breakout indie film, Angamaly Diaries, was screened at the Indian Express Film Club on June 23. The discussion was moderated by Indian Express film critic Shubhra Gupta.
“It is a film that uses the F word, not the one that you’re thinking of. It has food, it is ferocious, it is full hit and it is, inevitably, a film,” said Gupta, while introducing Angamaly Diaries.
Among the audience was a young man from a town near Angamaly who had watched the film before. Arun Krishnan, a PhD student, said, “ The film is so interesting that I felt like watching it again and again. It tracks the life of common people, it has real characters and it feels like a story narrated by the camera. I was impressed with the 11-minute climax which was filmed in a single take”. This was a scene that featured 1,000 artists, not all of them professionals.
Director Lijo Jose Pellissery has captured the tenor and texture of life in a small town of Kerala but his film evoked memories of other parts of India among the audience. “I belong to UP and a few scenes could be from there, from the practice of eating raw mangoes with chilli powder to making bombs at home,” said Assistant Professor Piyush Kumar.
Banker Vikas Gambhir’s takeaway from the film was its humour. “The distinct Kerala humour of both the male and female characters came through very well,” he said. Another guest at the screening, B George, an HR professional, added, “A lot of people say that, in spite of so much bloodshed and fights, there was no repentance in the characters. I feel Angamaly Diaries is a slice-of-life film, where there is no clear line between right and wrong. The situations in the film would be the same in every town.”
A lawyer, Gagandeep Singh, who has done theatre in college, has become a fan of Pellissery. “It is sheer art to play with the senses of the audience through the shots of food and music, among others. The film was a sensory overload.”