September 27, 2019 11:28:51 am
Director Lijo Jose Pellissery made a splash at the recently concluded Toronto International Film Festival, where his latest film Jallikattu had its world premiere. The film was rewarded with a rousing response from the international audience, who seemed quite thrilled to watch a village going into a tailspin after a rouge buffalo escapes from a slaughterhouse.
I am sure after watching Jallikattu, you will seek out Pellissery’s earlier work. In nearly 10 years, he has made seven movies. And he has grown sharper, wittier and bolder with each film. The hit 2017 action-comedy Angamaly Diaries will be the best entry point into Pellissery’s world.
Before Angamaly Diaries, came Amen. Pellissery’s films began to look, sound and feel very different after Amen. It is as if the director got rid of his self-doubt and learned to express himself freely without any reservations.
Angamaly Diaries is a remarkable Malayalam film for a variety of reasons. Especially, for capturing the lifestyle and culture of Angamaly, a small town on the outskirts of Kochi, accurately.
Chemban Vinod Jose’s dense script is visually imagined by Pellissery with the skill of a remarkable technician. It opens with a short man trying to hire the service of a rowdy to take revenge against those who beat him up at his jewellery store. And the man he meets is too busy enjoying alcohol and a dish made from the flesh of python, which he stole from a school exhibition. The whole town is obsessed with eating meat. Two life-altering conflicts break out over two kinds of meat: pork and rabbit. Even as the town loves its beef fry and porotta, it is fascinated by pork. Pig farming is such a lucrative business there that it is one of the quick ways one can grow wealth and in this film becomes a breeding ground for competition and enmity.
There is no other modern Malayalam film that so imaginatively and aggressively uses food metaphors to convey characteristics of the region which shapes and decides the lives of its inhabitants.
Another characteristic of men in Angamaly is their penchant for free-for-all street fights. The unconventional characters of this film fly into an uncontrollable rage even at the slightest provocation. Chaos has become a way of life for these men who can’t think of a better use for their unchecked masculinity other than violence.
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You will emerge from the 131-minute pulsating narration with a sense of having lived a life in Angamaly. You will know how the town would react to a girl wearing a sleeveless top. You will know what are the delicacies of the town and where to find them. You will know how the men of the town unwind after the sun goes down. You will know how to treat an Angamaly Kaaran (a man from Angamaly). And when to run for your life, in case you rubbed the Angamaly Kaaran in the wrong way.
Angamaly Diaries is streaming on Netflix.
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