Angamaly Diaries Review - Of Dusty Bylanes, Pork Tales and Craziness
Lijo Jose Pellissery has a fantastic sense of humour, those who have seen his film Amen (2013) would probably vouch for this. In his latest film Angamaly Diaries which seems to be attracting attention from all corners right from the day it released, this is even more evident. While the film lays a lot of importance to food, as seen by the way it is represented in the film, beginning with the song during the opening credits where we see various popular food joints in the town of Angamaly and their signature dishes getting prepared, there is a lot more to this in the film. Imagine describing a romantic relationship in relation to that of a food combination, don’t believe me? Well then don’t worry you could check out the film for yourself. So when Vincent Pepe and his first lady love Seema embark on their relationship Pepe describes their relationship being as lovely as the popular combination of tapioca and egg. Later while describing their breakup and the subsequent change in the relationship Vincent goes on to say that Seema realized that tapioca and pork make a better combination, thus finding someone better and moving to Singapore. Similarly Pepe realizes that egg and green peas make an awesome combination, so that’s how he has moved ahead himself in a relationship with Sakhi.
Despite a pretty good track record people did get surprised with Lijo’s previous film Double Barrel, something that seemed to be a tad too extravagant in terms of an experiment within the commercial space. But it did sound encouraging on hearing that he had moved on, even as we heard the announcement of his latest film, Angamaly Diaries. With not a single known actor in the film, Lijo has gone on to introduce 86 new actors in the film, this one marking Vijay Babu’s first solo project as producer under his Friday Film House banner. It’s not the first time that one is seeing a film made in such a fashion that it pays tribute to a particular place, but here Lijo moves quite a few steps ahead as we realize that the town of Angamaly ends up being a character in itself in the film. So whenever you hear of characters uttering “njanum oru Angamalykkaran aane” (I am also a resident of Angamaly) in the film, you know that it’s being said with a lot of pride.
In the town of Angamaly we are introduced to the Palliyangadi team of youngsters that’s headed by Vincent Pepe (Antony Varghese), a youngster with big dreams and a natural leader. He has clear plans to move ahead in life and do well to secure a good future for himself and his family. He is keen to marry his girlfriend Sakhi (Binny Rinky Benjamin) and shift to Germany in this process. In the interim period on realizing the business potential associated with selling pork in Angamaly, Pepe and his friends get into the business, in the process they go on to cross paths with the hot headed brothers Rajan (Tito Wilson) and Ravi (Sarath Kumar). Just when everything seems to be going right for Pepe and his friends, an unexpected situation crops up catching all of them totally off guard and throwing their lives into disarray. How does an otherwise cheerful group of youngsters manage to stray down into a dangerous path? How do they go about from thereon and what happens to all of them eventually? As the film lunges forward in to the second half we get to understand all of these and more.
Lijo Jose Pellissery has teamed up with actor Chemban Vinod Jose who turns writer with Angamaly Diaries. Chemban Vinod has gone on to a splendid job, working well in tandem with Lijo who ensures that the writing gets executed wonderfully on screen. Whenever a director and screenwriter click in combination like this, generally the output becomes something worth anticipating and that is true in case of Angamaly Diaries as well. The writing ensures that there is an undercurrent of humour throughout the film, but it remains subtle and never overrides the grim tone at any point of time. Technically the film is on a very strong wicket, Gireesh Gangadharan’s cinematography bringing alive the various hues and shades of the locations of Angamaly. The grand finale which appears to be a single take shot is in particular a delight, the way it’s been conceived and executed with such a huge crowd around makes it even more special.
With a run time of 132 minutes, the film moves at quite a rapid pace, Shameer Mohammed’s work on the edit table certainly seems to be quite effective. Prashant Pillai’s music is a big plus, both in terms of the songs and the BGM, complementing the mood and the feel of the film. In particular adopting a brass band style at many places adds to the novelty for sure. It’s no mean task to make a film with a totally new set of actors, but to do so with 86 of them around, most of them getting to register an impact as well is no mean feat at all. Hats off to Lijo and the people involved in the casting process, also it’s been very inventive of Chemban Vinod for the kind of unique character names that he has come up with for the film. Among the actors who leave a big impression are Sarath Kumar and Tito Wilson who play Ravi and Rajan with perfection, Ullas Jose Chemban as the SI and Bitto Davis as “10 ml” Thomas.
Reshma Rajan is fantastic as Lichy, in fact it’s quite an interesting character, easily one of the better female characters that one can come across in Malayalam cinema of late. Antony Varghese is a good find, making a confident debut as a leading man in the film. Angamaly Diaries is an extremely spirited attempt by Lijo Jose Pellissery, this is the kind of film that is more than going to get talked about for quite some time.
Lijo Jose Pellissery has come up with a refreshing film, one that has nearly everything going right for it. It’s also the kind of risky experiment that one delights at on realizing the quality of the output. Go watch it now.