Parole movie cast: Mammootty, Iniya, Miya
Parole movie director: Sharrath Sandith
Parole movie rating: 2 stars
Malayalam superstar Mammootty plays a hardcore communist in his new film Parole, which is the directorial debut of ad filmmaker Sharrath Sandith. Apparently inspired by a true story, the film follows Comrade Alex’s (Mammootty) life. Sharrath has employed a simple narrative structure for Parole. He begins the story in a high-security jail, where Alex is the most loved inmate. His co-inmates adore him, and he’s a sweetheart for the prison officials.
At one point, when Alex’s parole application gets suspended, a gloomy mood envelopes the entire prison compound. And one top cop says something like it was the most emotionally difficult situation he had to face in his entire service. The character that works at a prison, which is a culminating point for all the crimes and tragedies of life, wants us to believe when he says a convict getting his parole suspended is the biggest tragedy of all. That’s the problem with Sharrath’s film, he tries to spoon feed the audience on how to feel about the incidents and characters that we see on the screen. And he aspires to achieve it with his lousy writing.
Alex begins to tell his life’s story upon being asked by a curious inmate lodged next to his cell. A teenage Alex is introduced to the ideology of communism by his father played by Alencier Ley Lopez. He grows up on teachings of P Krishna Pillai, the revolutionary who was the founder of the Communist movement in Kerala. It is Alex’s father who begins the Communist movement in a small town in Kottayam, where the rich decided the value of goods produced by the farmers. Alex continues to spearhead the movement even after his father’s death. Alex has a stepsister Kathreena (Miya), who is dissed by other members of the family for obvious reasons. However, Alex loves her more than his own life.
Alex allows Varghese, a member of the Indian Army (Suraj Venjaramoodu), to marry Kathreena. Varghese turns out to be a scoundrel later. He gets court-martialed for peddling drugs. And when he returns to Alex and Kathreena’s life, he slowly begins to destroy them.
Alex blinded by the love for his sister loses his property and family and ends up in jail too. It’s interval and we are back to the prison. From there on the film follows Alex’s life into the future, where another series of unfortunate incidents await him.
The narration and Mammootty’s performance is better in the second half. Mammootty’s performance as Alex, a defeated middle-age person who is resigned to his fate, comes as a saving grace. He has staged a subtle performance in scenes where he’s longing to meet his son or the scenes where he swallows the insults hurled at him, gets our attention for a while. Alex is powerful when it comes to helping people in distress, but he becomes powerless and helpless when it’s time to provide for his family.
Mammootty’s efforts to save the film soon vanishes into a thin air due to Sharrath’s cluelessness about what to do with a stellar star cast, including Iniya, who has essayed the role of Alex’s wife Annie.
While we can spot lazy writing in every scene, the film’s cinematography by Loganathan Srinivasan is noteworthy. Each frame looks like a painting, especially the scenes set in the backdrop of scenic mountains of Kerala. Loganathan’s work is only among a few good things in the film, apart from Mammootty.
Sharrath has been consistent in maintaining a melancholy mood throughout the film. But, it leaves us wondering what was the need of Prabhakar’s bad prisoner act? How did Kathreena die? Or why do all prisoners in this film look so happy like they are on a vacation?
Sharrath makes life at the prison look as if it is not bad after all.