Ee.Ma.Yau movie cast: Chemban Vinod Jose, Vinayakan, Dileesh Pothan
Ee.Ma.Yau movie director: Lijo Jose Pellissery
Ee.Ma.Yau movie rating: 5 stars
Director Lijo Jose Pellissery’s distinctive style of storytelling is going from strength to strength. His latest film is Ee.Ma.Yau, a short form of Eeso Mariyam Ouseppe. Eeso Mariyam Ouseppe is whispered in the ears of people on their death bed in certain Christian communities. Ee.Ma.Yau highlights the fact that for creating an immersive cinematic experience, one doesn’t need the best of film technology that big film studios can buy. All it takes, to put it like Alfred Hitchcock, is “script, script, script.” The dark satirical drama is written by renowned writer P F Mathews, who has spun a relatable drama that unfolds in the aftermath of an unexpected death.
Set in the coastal stretch of Chellanam in Kochi, the film is a melting pot of myriad human emotions such as revenge, pride, ego, friendship, love, lust, greed and guilt. On a fateful day, Vavachan Mesthiri (Kainakari Thankaraj), probably in his late 60s or early 70, has an eventful evening. He puts down a fellow villager, who is much younger to him, in a fistfight after a heated exchange. He goes home with a duck sitting inside his carry bag that is closely held to his chest. Besides the duck, the bag contains a bottle of country-made liquor and a bundle of old high-value banknotes, both of which are banned by the government.
He is brooding over something. His son Eeshi (a flawless Chemban Vinod Jose) make his father break his deep pensive silence with a glass of brandy. Vavachan recalls that his father had the grandest funeral that his village had ever seen. And that record apparently stands to date. He wants a spectacular funeral for himself. But can he with a bunch of banned Indian rupees which was his life’s only saving? Of course, not. Eeshi promises Vavachan that he will make sure he gets a glorious send-off like a king with a pricey casket and music band leading a grand procession.
Watch Ee.Ma.Yau trailer here:
Little did Eeshi know that he will have to make arrangements for the royal funeral that he promised his father just hours later. A drunk Vavachan is having a good time – drinking, singing and recounting his younger days in theatre and suddenly, he falls dead. The fall injures his head and causes bleeding.
Vavachan’s house, set on the beachside, first feels like it is located in a secluded place. But, when the tragedy strikes, we understand that a close-knit community lies at the family’s doorstep. As Pennamma (newcomer Pauly Valsan) runs from door to door asking for help, for the first time the camera moves around showing the surroundings of Vavachan’s house. Now the film doesn’t just belong to Eeshi or Vavachan. The narration widens with each character that enters the frame having his or her purpose to fulfill and lead the story forward.
The idea of the film is simple: a man died and his mortal remains need to be buried. But, is it as simple as it sounds, with every human being seeing an opportunity to indulge his or her cheap thrills? A rumor monger who floats a theory of foul play in Vavachan’s death. A vicar who wants to play Sherlock Holmes. A pervasive carpenter who makes weak coffins. An unscrupulous and greedy moneylender. The unhelpful police officials and medical staff. And last but not the least, Vavachan’s unlawful wife and children. Each character effectively contributes to the story in the run-up to an emotional ending.
Jose plays a loving son who struggles to give his father the best funeral that his wife’s only gold chain can buy. Ayyappan (brilliantly played by Vinayakan) is seemingly the only character in the film with a good moral compass and Dileesh Pothan’s unforgiving Vicar Fr. Zazcharia Parappurath appearance is brief but significant. More or less every actor in the film gets to make an impression and that’s a no mean feat to achieve for a writer and a director.
The entire film unfolds on the beachside. It is very difficult to spot a scene sans the presence of water. Cinematographer Shyju Khalid brilliantly follows the characters with his camera clearly conveying their emotional state. Lijo has also used the dark clouds, strong winds, fierce waves and animals to play up the volatile nature of the script. It, in fact, reminded me of Pather Panchali, in which Satyajit Ray had used the harsh elements of nature to visually capture the evils of poverty.
Coming from a family with a strong theatre background, Lijo understands the importance of blocking a scene meaningfully. He applies the techniques of stage blocking as the movements of every character in his films are triggered by cues of other characters. With his ever-evolving storytelling techniques, Lijo does full justice to Mathews’ classic script.