Saturday, July 30, 2016

Premam: A Masterpiece

Director: Alphonse Puthren
Cast: Nivin Pauly, Sai Pallavi, Anupama Parameshwaran
Year: 2015

I know, I know. This review is a little too late, considering the movie was released well over a year ago, and it has already been reviewed, parodied, and talked about to death. But I absolutely LOVED this movie, and have been meaning to write about it for quite a while. My current schedule forced me to push this blog to the bottom of my priority list. Hence the long delay.

I will undoubtedly be criticized by many for daring to call a recently released movie by a relatively new filmmaker "a masterpiece". But that's precisely what I believe this movie to be.

A google search yielded the following definition of "masterpiece": a work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship.
And by that definition, Premam absolutely deserves to be called a masterpiece. Another definition for the word "masterpiece" is an artist's or craftsman's best piece of work. By that definition, whether this movie will turn out to be Alphonse Puthren's masterpiece, we will just have to wait and see. I hope not. I hope he keeps topping himself with each subsequent movie.

Is Premam a perfect movie? Absolutely not. There is no such thing as a "perfect" work of art. I found many faults with the movie. For example, the initial segment with Mary was a bit too long. George's feelings for Malar was superficial -- based on looks alone -- so I didn't really understand his devastation when he lost her. Also, I thought that Madonna Sebastian was the wrong actress for the part of Celine. She is a bit too self conscious. Every other actor was perfect for their role. You could also analyze it from a feminist perspective and call the movie misogynistic, but then again most movies are, Malayalam and foreign.

A masterpiece doesn't have to be perfect. It simply has to be "outstanding" on many levels. Alphonse Puthren expertly weaves together outstanding writing, dialogues, casting, background score, songs, cinematography, editing, etc., to craft a movie that appeals equally to the film connoisseur and the average filmgoer. I really felt transported to George's worlds, all three of them -- the village on the banks of "Aluva Puzha", the college campus, and Cafe Agape. The shots were designed to give a fly-on-the-wall feeling and it really works.

Besides George, there are so many well-developed characters played to perfection in the film. Characters like Girirajan kozhi, Jojo, Jahangir (Mary's classmate), Vimal Sir, Shivan Sir, Dolly D'Cruz all seem like caricatured versions of people we all know. Each and every one of those characters are indispensible and add immensely to the relatability of the film. I even loved the character Ronnie, played by Alphonse Puthren himself; I loved the way he transformed from a cocky asshole to a comically pathetic loser after getting beat up by George and company.

Apart from the characters, there are so many scenes in the movie that will be termed "classic" for generations to come:

  • Vimal Sir's Java Class, 
  • When Jojo listens in on Celine's phone conversation with George and tells Celine to put her faith in God before making a decision about her marriage.
  • Girirajan kozhi's proposal to Mary.
  • Girirajan kozhi arriving at Cafe Agape on horseback.
  • The kalippu scene. The music and the interrupted slow motion work brilliantly to manipulate the viewer's emotions.

Alphonse Puthren's genius and passion is evident in each and every scene, shot, and aspect of the movie. I have no qualms in saying that Premam is truly a masterpiece.

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