Eeda (2018) Malayalam Movie Review – Veeyen


The brilliant source material is what makes Ajith Kumar’s directorial debut a forceful watch that depicts the tragic underside of a land that forever leaves fresh streaks of blood all over itself even before the older stains have dried off. It’s a sobering, significant film that draws you right into the turbulence that it depicts, and which throws a multitude of questions on your face leaving you tussling with the gruelling answers.


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‘Eeda’ unfurls on a bleak and brutal land where love and loathing in their most extreme forms co-exist and overlap, where men have made it a habit to embark on self-deceptive journeys down self-destructive trails. It’s a troubling film that grapples with a germane theme, and which takes us along on its ride along the road to ruin.

Anand (Shane Nigam) works at an insurance company in Mysore, the city where Aishwarya (Nimisha Sajayan) pursues her studies following which she dreams of moving over to the US. They are both originally from Kerala; Kannur to be precise and hail from families that hold steadfast allegiances to the rival political parties, KPM and KJP. Battling against their own apprehensions, Anand and Aishwarya discover love, even as their dear ones back home carry on with their unyielding combat against each other, sending one head rolling over the dust after the other.

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There is an outstanding poise that ‘Eeda’ maintains when it comes to the statement that it so clearly wants to make; it simply refuses to take sides and cautiously dodges the one fatal error that could have transformed it into a slanted effort. This objectivity stands the film in good and with both KPM and KJP under the heat, ‘Eeda’ gets down to its task of laying bare the political process, and the countless shadowy stratagems that underlie it.

As Anand’s cousin brother Upendran (Manikandan), a KJP activist is killed, the women in his household flop down around his slaughtered remains, weeping in silence. A bit far away, sits his sister with a frozen expression on her face that is unlike anything else that we have witnessed in the face of death; a stoic blankness has by now replaced the terror and alarm that had brimmed over from her eyes a few scenes back, when she whispers aloud if her brother might be the next one in the line.

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For the ones who have lost it all, the margins and precincts laid out by political affinities, have surprisingly dissolved. On the run, Anand seeks refuge at Leela’s (Shelly Kishore) place, a KPM campaigner who lives a sheltered life with her daughter and husband Mohanan – a comrade and victim of political violence, who has been left for dead on a wheel chair. Mohanan assures Anand that he would be safe there, since they have very few visitors these days, except when the elections are round the corner.

On a land where death becomes a way of life, fear and pain have long fled men’s eyes. Upendran affirms that it’s better to die a wolf than live as a dog, when confronted by Anand on his decisions that the younger man deems as foolhardiness and nothing else. Comrade Karipally Dineshan (Sujith Sankar) smiles briefly before bidding adieu to Anand, who has arrived with the warning of an impending attack on him, and states that if they have decided to finish him off, they will, and dread would make the least difference.

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Outside this manic realm where reason has been upturned to be stifled by stroppy pretexts and ploys, there exists a world where a young boy approaches his dad to show off his new chopper, where women make plans for going for a movie in the evening and where a young man spends his Sunday morning surfing through the matrimonial columns to find a potential bride. This is also the world where Anand and Aishwarya meet; a world that is far away and yet so close, where they connect through a series of beeps and clangs on a social networking platform before getting to know each other for what they truly are.

The city in ‘Eeda’ is more of an escapade, an idyllic land of lights and cloistered spaces where you roam hand in hand with the ones you love, snuggle up on a mattress or a bean bag, losing yourself in the dim gleam of your mobile phone screens, or adeptly do a vanishing act in a crowd that forever changes shapes and figures. Here in this sprawling city, willingly lost, Aishwarya sighs that it had been a while since she remembered the sordid tales back home; a land of green where, as Anand hushedly murmurs later, they are watching you from behind every leaf.

The final scene of ‘Eeda’ as Anand and Aiswarya walk along a deserted road on yet another Hartal day, has an appalling silence to it that is deafening. This is a moment when the future hangs on a noose above the pair, and as the day gives way to the night, and with another dawn the terror would imminently return. Heads would be crushed, necks slain, guts wrenched out and lunacy would reign supreme again, as man would leap over man in an unquenchable fervour to kill.

One cannot help feeling that the director that Ajith Kumar is, has the upper hand in ‘Eeda’ than the editor, and while the former half has an extensively leisurely pace that helps anchor the characters in place, ‘Eeda’ could very well have done better with a bit of a tidying up, especially towards the climax. At two and a half hours long, ‘Eeda’ looks in need for some brisker editing without doubt, that could have altered it into an even more compelling experience for the viewer.

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‘Eeda’ has stupendous performances from its lead pair – Shane Nigam as the distraught Anand, who is helplessly entrapped in an eddy of political crime and bloodshed and Nimisha Sajayan as Aishwarya, who equally powerless, watches on as her life gets tattered to shreds for reasons that she would never be able to fathom. Staunch acting feats from actors as Surabhi Lekshmi, Alencier Lay, Sujtih Sankar, Manikandan, Sudhi Koppa, Abu Valayamkulam, Sunitha and Shelly Kishore add to the intensity of the piece.

The brilliant source material is what makes Ajith Kumar’s directorial debut a forceful watch that depicts the tragic underside of a land that forever leaves fresh streaks of blood all over itself even before the older stains have dried off. It’s a sobering, significant film that draws you right into the turbulence that it depicts, and which throws a multitude of questions on your face leaving you tussling with the gruelling answers.


Verdict: Laudable Directorial Debut


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