There is a distinct difference between the world of a child and the world of an adult. Life becomes complicated when innocence is lost and corruption reigns over human whims. 'Manjadikuru' brings back memories of that lost innocence, in a surrounding that is as lost to the modern society as is innocence amongst adults.
The death of the grandfather played by Thilakan, signifies the death of an era and briefly reunites a large family, which has barely any contact with or shares any fondness for each other. Their rejoining under a single roof first brings to light the problems that had caused the alienation and then the reasons for which they could never forgive themselves.
Vicky, meanwhile, befriends the twelve year old Tamil servant girl Roja (Vijayanthi) and then his cousins, who are the children of Raghu (Rahman), the younger brother of his mother. The bond between the children grows stronger and deeper in a matter of days even though the issues between them is too serious in the eyes of his mother for them to even talk. Senior actor Urvashi plays Vicky's mother in the movie.The ego and complex which rule the 'real' world of grown-ups is too naive for the children to get bothered about, and they are more concerned living in their 'childish' world of adventure, learning and sharing.
The movie has a very distinguished star cast including Thilakan, Murali, Jagathy Sreekumar, Bindu Panicker, Urvashi, Rahman and Kaviyoor Ponnamma. Every actor in the movie has turned in their best efforts to make their parts in the movie come alive. 'Manjadikuru' is one of the last films of late actor Murali and the film reminds us of how much of a loss to the industry, the demise of the actor has been. Urvashi, as the loud-mouthed, ‘sophisticated’, self-centered, upperclass woman who takes prides in distancing herself away from her past, seems like the Urvashi of old days who had revolutionised the concept of heroines in Malayalam cinema. Thilakan and Kaviyoor Ponnamma do not have much screen time and have a minimum of dialogues, with Thilakan having none at all. Yet through their expressions, the actors convey more to the viewer than a page long narration. Jagathy Sreekumar is being sorely missed by the industry; his performance as the high-ranking official son-in-law, who finds his own wife demeaning to his standards, marks the versatility that had made the actor acquire the status of a legend. Although appearing in the movie only for a few minutes, the narration by Prithviraj puts the final mark on the easy flow of the movie, which captivates the viewer till the very end.
Other than the actors involved, a host of renowned names appear behind the camera as well. The movie is the debut feature film of Anjali Menon, who already is an established name among the lead directors in the industry.
Lyrics are by Kavalam Narayana Panikkar, music by Ramesh Narayan and cinematography by Pietro Zuercher. But the greatest thing about Manjadikuru is that despite the famous names, it is not the individual effort but the total outcome that gives the movie its identity as a classic. The authentic feel about the village life of the 1980s, that's splendidly captured by cameraman Pietro Zuercher, is backed up by the soothing back ground tones by Francois Gamaury and director Anjali Menon has ensured that nothing is amiss, either with the costumes, settings or in the conversation among the characters.
'Manjadikuru' is a refreshing breeze blowing across an industry, which has been falling behind in its presence in award lists at both national and international levels for the past several years. Whether the film itself is a glimpse at a lost past meant to evoke nostalgia, or if it would indeed pave the way for the return of 'serious' cinema remains to be seen. But for an audience who are proudly playing their part in ushering in the 'new wave' in Malayalam cinema, Manjadikuru is a must watch; one which is an irreplaceable loss if not watched in a theatre, on the big screen.
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