There is a charm in seeing the life of adults through a child's eyes, where masks and pretensions crumble and the stark truth is revealed.
Director Anjali Menon tries something like that in her film Manjadikuru. It is easy to categorise this as a story of nostalgia or the loss of the verdant world of childhood. But it is a social and political story too, dwelling on issues we have been grappling with like the breaking down of the joint family system or the disenchantment with revolutionary politics.
The central event is the breaking up of a Tharavadu named Kausthubham after the death of the patriarch (played by Thilakan), the rivalry between his children and the issues they have with each other.
It is all seen through the eyes of a child, Vicky (Sidharath), who has returned to his parents' village from the Gulf for the last rites of his maternal grandfather.
It is a layered story and the layers are peeled away, giving depth and substance to every character that appears on the screen. No pat solutions are offered nor is there a conclusion to the things that these people are grappling with.
As the six siblings and spouses busy themselves with the cremation and ceremonies that follow, the kids engage with each other, seeking their own pleasures and find solutions to their own world-shattering problems.
Vicky first befriends Roja (Vyjayanthi), a housemaid who was looking after his grandparents. Roja is just a couple of years
older than Vicky.
His young heart goes out to the girl who does not get even the respect of being called by her proper name despite doing all the work. So, he gifts her a bar of chocolate.
He also engages with his cousins, the children of his uncle Raghu (Rahman), who is the typical angry young man of a bygone era.
In between their games, Vicky is privy to the proceedings of the adult world; the infighting, hurt and pain they have been carrying with them throughout their lives.
We see all this played out by some good performances by actors like Urvashi, the late Murali, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, and Jagathy Sreekumar.
Murali is the eldest of the siblings, who dons saffron garb after being disenchanted with Naxalism and revolutionary politics. Jagathy Sreekumar plays a high-ranking government officer who is a son-in-law of the expired patriarch.
Urvashi, who plays Vicky's mother, had shunned the love of her brother Raghu's friend and married a lowly worker in the Middle East and thereby earned the animosity of her brother.
Prithviraj gives his voice to the narrator played by the young Vicky.
The realistic script wins our hearts, as do the natural performances by the kids' brigade and also their elders.
If there's anything to complain about, it would be the long drawn out silences and pauses in some places that check the natural flow of the story. Yet this is a minor blemish given the overall impact of the film.
In this film, Anjali Menon succeeds in giving us a charming view of the adult world seen through the eyes of a child.