Some films give you pleasant surprises. A similar feeling will envelop you when you watch the Malayalam film Shudharil Shudhan, (the posters of which has a stern-looking Kalabhavan Mani in police uniform and a smiling bespectacled Mukesh).
Shudharil Shudhan tells the story of labourers in tea estates in the high ranges of the state languishing under the pressure of globalisation and how they are exploited by their bosses and politicians.
At the centre of things is Ramankutty (Indrans), the leader of the labourers who has blind faith in the words of his political bosses and unwavering belief in the ideology proposed by them.
We may have seen such ventures in both commercial and art format. But to see a sincere effort like this in the dark period Malayalam cinema is an invigorating experience.
Ramankutty, a family man and the leader of menial labourers is huge in stature due to his sincerity and honesty. He is brave enough to resist any form of lucre even if it means keeping his three children hungry.
We find a bunch of stock characters like the police constable portrayed by Mani, who uses the power of his uniform to get what he wants. Then there is the rich man played by Sai Kumar, who thinks he can bed any woman by waving a few currency notes. We also have an ambitious young politician (who is a wolf in sheep's garb), a worker played by Manimpilla Raju who will swing to any side for a bottle of booze, and even a madman played by T G Ravi, whose young daughter mysteriously disappears one fine day. Not to forget the guest appearance by Mukesh as a member of Human Rights Commission, at the end to set everything right.
Basically what works is the performance of the ensemble cast. Indrans certainly deserves mention.
Debutant director Jayaraaj Vijay deserves a pat on the back for making a socially responsible film.