Critically acclaimed Veteran Malayalam Director T. Hariharan and National award winning writer 'Jnanapeeth' M.T. Vasudevan Nair had come together yet again to deliver this epic movie based on the life story of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, who was one of the first to revolt against the British East India Company.
The film opens with the British troops plundering the treasures of the Pazhassi Palace as Pazhassi Raja’s family secretively shifts base elsewhere. Raged by the fact that simple tradesmen vying after cardamom and ginger were attempting to sieze control over his motherland, Pazhassi Raja (played by Mamooty) decides that its time for war. Camping in the thick forests of the Scenic Wayanad, he raises a small but skilled army; Aided by his able lieutenants Edachena Kunkan (Sarath Kumar) and Kaitheri Ambu (Suresh Krishna) and the tribal chief Thalakkal Chanthu (Manoj K Jayan), Pazhassi launches his battle against the British with an ingenious organisation with Guerilla tactics. What leads to the well deserved heroic end of the gallant prince forms the rest of the movie’s story.
Mamooty as Pazhassi has delivered yet another splendid performance in the movie. Sarath shines as Kungan, the right hand man of Pazhassi, with his effective underplay in a character that could have been easily theatric. Manoj K Jayan as Chanthu and Suman as the villainous Pazhayamveedan Chandhu deserve a pat on the back for their neat performances. Padmapriya as Chanthu’s fiancée Neeli, comes up with a lively performance as the brave tribal woman (she fights- literally!) Kaniha as Pazhassi’s queen Makkam is alluring with the typical old world woman’s charm- subtle, yet strong.
The movie boasts of giants of the likes of the incomparable Maestro Ilayaraja and the Oscar winning Sound designer Resul Pookutty. Chitra’s rendition of the melodius ‘Kundrathu …' is a subtle marvel. Excellent art work by Muthuraj helps recreate the eighteenth century Keralite ambience in a flawless fashion. Cinematography by Ramanath Shetty and action choreography by Ravi Dewan, Thyagarajan and Mafia Sasi stand out. Martial arts fans are not to miss the splendidly showcased Kalari-payattu scenes crafted with finesse.
The three hour fifteen minutes long tale of courage, loyalty and betrayal is definitely not the regular cinema-goer’s piece of cake, but definitely and easily one of the best made movies released in the recent times of Indian Cinema.
Being a movie of its own stature, it comes as no big surprise that the movie had been feliciated with Eight Awards including those of the Best Director and the Best Actors at the Kerala State Film Awards, 2009.
Clean, neat and technically sound, this celluloid tribute to one of the greatest warriors of the nation is worth a watch for every conscientious Indian!