Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Malayalam Film That Marks a New Beginning. {Philips and the Monkey’s Pen}


    The Monkey’s Paw  is a horror short story,  written by W.W. Jacobs with a theme cautioning human beings not to play with their fate. The monkey’s paw  in that story was nothing but a jinx. But the  Malayalam film ‘Philips and the Monkey’s Pen’ released in 2013 does not have any such horror base. On the other hand this critically reviewed film, seems to sing a  corrective melody with a variety of themes, as notes and ragas. One would initially feel a bit confused about too many layers getting into a single narration. One would  even doubt if it is a  historical anecdote or a mythical mystery or a social malady the film is trying to project.
     A few vital factors, as life’s standard norms, are focused without raising the volume of the  didactic voice. One is about truth and falsehood. The clear statement is ‘Truth might appear to be bitter, but falsehood is too sweet to taste’. The second thumb rule  is, one should solely depend on oneself to come up in life. The other refreshing perception  is  about the demarcation of learners into meritorious, mediocre and mischievous categories with their respective percentages of 20+60+20  and with a categorical emphasis on the last segment, becoming memory pointers and value indicators for an Alma Mater.
     Aggressive adolescence, has been the chosen theme of a small group of film directors of all languages. This film made me a considerably  nostalgic about late Balu Mahendra, whose ‘Azhiyadha Kolangal’ that  came in the Nineteen Seventies, created indelible impressions of the vagaries of adolescence, through a different mode of narration. Recently the Tamil film Pasanga,directed by Pandiraj, also dealt with memorable adolescent  days at school with an inseparable mark of mischief and pranks and the freshness in narration made the film eligible for a National Award. The concept of drawing a longer line, parallel to an already existing line in order to make it smaller, owes its courtesy to director K.Balachander ,whose title and theme impressively discussed its significance in the film’ Iru Kodugal’.
    The major plus point of the film ‘Philips and the Monkey Pen’ is its overall aesthetics in presentation that includes the natural role play of all the kids, particularly the cute little boy playing the role of Ryan Philip, {Master  Sanoop Santhosh}with consummate understanding of all nuances of acting, the exuberant photographic grasp of human mood and natural landscape, the commendable underplay of  a compact father character by Jaya Soorya and the integrating musical elegance.All these fascinating components of the movie raise it to its deserving heights. Should the beginning of a reformed behavioural pattern  always be preceded by the death of a loved one? The death of a girl student in an accident involving the school bus, becomes a prompter for sermonizing  on parental and social responsibilities, besides forcing an already reforming delinquent, to introspect.
   The Mathematics teacher’s change over from a conventionally flawed approach to one of ripeness in dealing with victims of formative age syndrome, could have been pictured in a little more acceptable way, than as a casual course. But the teacher throwing a party to his wards even after losing the competition, certainly adds a fresh dimension to the change over, that spontaneously drives Ryan to confess  his act of making a phone call to the police, in order to  falsely implicate his teacher by using the latter’s mobile phone.The boy’s crying aloud on account of  compunction comes as a genuine follow up, sharply reflecting his sense of shame and guilt. The other unusual aspect of the film is, the avoidance of blaming parental pampering or negligence, as the sole reason for adolescent misbehavior. After watching the film one would certainly carry solid memories of the events on screen, vibrating deeper some where in the mind, accompanied by a sense of fulfilment of  seeing new talents, getting ready to conquer cinema in its original creative form. It is not that easy to forget this film. In this regard  I am sure, the duo Rojin Thomas and Shanil Muhammed have made  a clean start.
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