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Mizhikal Sakshi is melodramatic
Paresh C Palicha | June 23, 2008 12:11 IST
The line between something profound and pretentious is very thin. If we try to stretch the profundity more than what is absolutely necessary, then it is at risk of becoming pretentious.
Director Asok R Nath tries out this perilous task in his new Malayalam film Mizhikal Sakshi but fails to keep the balance of the film from tilting towards the pretentious. The plot may be intense and thought provoking, but it does not have the subtlety one desires from such a subject. It is melodramatic and languorous with halting dialogue delivery that seems to make us believe that this is an intellectually superior film.
This is the story of a mute Muslim mother, Kuniyamma [Sukumari] whose son, Syed Ahmed [Mohanlal] is awarded the death penalty after falsely being accused of bombing a train. With no means to support herself, Kuniyamma is reduced to begging outside a temple. Slowly, she ekes out a living in and around the temple's compound. The director may have used such an implausible scenario to hammer in the point of religious animosity and cynicism [or should we say hatred] between communities. But, it begins to jar after a while, though Sukumari gives a riveting performance.
A major portion of the first half [the present] is dedicated to Sukumari, showcasing her despair and anguish. Cholli Swamy [Kochu Preman], a nomadic Sanyasi also staying in the temple compound is her only help. In fact, he becomes the interpreter of her thought process for the audience.
The second half is the flashback showing how her son gets entangled in the legal web. The narrative somewhat picks up the pace when Mohanlal comes into the scene. A college professor by profession, he is shown as the moderate voice of Islam, giving correct interpretation of the Koran and dissuading youngsters from joining the fundamentalists. Tragedy strikes when he is wrongly accused of a crime based on incriminating data found on his computer. What no one knows is that his computer is also used by his cousin Firoze.
Most of the things and people shown in this movie are overt, sometimes reduced to caricatures. So, the onus is on the actors to put some life into the situations and win our empathy.
Sukumari wins our vote hands down on this count, though she is mute throughout the movie. Mohanlal is effortless and natural. Still, one wishes that his character had more meat.
We can find some parallels of Afzal Guru's life and the story of this film. But, melodramatic superficiality does not allow this film to rise above the mundane.
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