Captain (2018) Malayalam Movie Review – Veeyen


Prajesh Sen’s sparkling directorial debut ‘Captain’ shines the spotlight on the life and unfortunate demise of an incredible footballer, who wore unrivalled accomplishments on his sleeve. A glorious tribute to a player who eventually got worn out grappling with personal demons, Sen’s malleable biopic is a perceptive portrayal of the player, and more importantly, the man that V P Sathyan was.


captain-review-veeyen

Prajesh Sen’s sparkling directorial debut ‘Captain’ shines the spotlight on the life and unfortunate demise of an incredible footballer, who wore unrivalled accomplishments on his sleeve. A glorious tribute to a player who eventually got worn out grappling with personal demons, Sen’s malleable biopic is a perceptive portrayal of the player, and more importantly, the man that V P Sathyan was.

Despite all the unparalleled achievements, Sathyan’s tale is fraught with an anguish that is beyond compare. Sen’s film commences at the Pallavaram railway station on the 18th of July, 2006, where a visibly troubled man (Jayasurya) sits in fretful wait, as the hoots of an approaching train grow louder. An hour later, when the train had long rushed by and an eventful life had come to an end, the media make a beeline for his wife’s (Anu Sithara) responses at his crammed apartment in Chennai.

captain-review-veeyen

The dramatic liberties that the film maker could have taken in a biopic as this are so estimably masked, that it’s almost impossible to delineate the real from the imaginary, and commendably so. Sen unambiguously states that this was a man who had no intention to compromise on his integrity and self respect, and at the end of an emotionally draining phase at the police force that he had been a part of, Sathyan is depicted as delivering a blow straight across a superior’s face much to the latter’s surprise.

For a man who breathed football, a niggling leg injury should certainly have been the unfairest of all the smacks that life had meted out to him. When the doctor suggests amputation, Sathyan is shattered beyond repair, and the appalling moment finally arrives when he decides that nothing in the world, probably matters any more.

captain-review-veeyen

Sen’s film is as much Sathyan’s story as it is Anitha’s; the wannabe agricultural engineer who never held footballers in high esteem, and who simply abhorred police men. Married to a man who was both of these, and who would pen long, sad letters on how lonely he was in Calcutta, she doesn’t think twice before quitting her studies and packing her bags to hold his hands, and assure him that things will get better. Years later, she huddles along with him on the Chennai beach, where he sits with half a leg buried under a heap of sand, and reiterates her assurances, though she isn’t sure if he is paying heed to her any more.

The man with the magical legs apparently had a susceptible heart; the greatest Indian defender of all times had a soul that often found itself defenceless. He starts leaving farewell notes around, which Anitha discovers with a mounting unease, and it is this gradual descent to doom that renders ‘Captain’ it’s tremendously melancholic tone, where you get to see him walking away with his head hung in gloom from the ground, career, family, friends and eventually, life itself.

captain-review-veeyen

The brighter moments glimmer in stark contrast, as when a beaming Anitha rushes on to the playground to hand him a scarf as he stands elated after having won the Santhosh Trophy for Kerala in 1992, or the faith that the Chief Minister of a state bestows on him to regain a long lost honour, or several years later, when at an airport, a much prized acknowledgement arrives from the most unexpected quarters.

captain-review-veeyen

‘Captain’ has staunch performances from its leading pair, with Jayasurya delivering a knockout act in the title role, moving far beyond the Captain’s Band that he pulls up over his arm. His is a meticulous performance that dwells over the intricacies that confounded Sathyan, and he finds an equally competent, complementary actor in Anu Sithara, who is pitch perfect as his distraught, helpless wife.

Sen’s biopic is one that we could be proud of, and it would be remembered not just as a mere chronicle of events that made up the life of one of the greatest footballers in the country, but as a profoundly detailed depiction of a man who was overcome by the torment that followed the elation of his heydays. Here was a star that fell down to the depths all too soon, and ‘Captain’ is a hurting reminder of a man who never got his due, of who he was, and who he could have been.


Verdict: A Glorious Tribute to a Legendary Player


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