Roshan Andrews appears out of his depth in ‘Kayamkulam Kochunni’, and the film appears more like a misspent opportunity than the highly agreeable jaunt that it should have been. Mounted on an epic scale, this is a film where the gargantuan efforts are all conspicuous, but the results quite regrettably, patchy and uneven.
The best frame in Roshan Andrews’ superhero flick ‘Kayamkulam Kochunni ‘ that quickly pulls the banaclava of a historical saga over its face, arrives at the half way point. Amidst the resounding thumps of the gallops of his horse, Ithikkara Pakki (Mohanlal) makes a regal departure with a wounded Kochunni (Nivin Pauly) lying comatose on the horse’s back towards the horizon, and the screen dims down bringing to an end the very few minutes of exhilaration that the film’s former half, has on offer.
Ironically, this is a film that has an appealing tale to tell; one of Kerala’s most loved robbers whose life story has accrued the status of a dearly treasured fable. It has the material that makes story telling an electrifying process, where a commonplace man rises to the stature of a superhuman in a world where thanks to him, injustice is reproved and righteousness prevails.
Kochunni has had a tough childhood, where he sees his dad humiliated for being a petty thief and grows up into a virtuous young man, determined not to follow his father’s ways. He dreams of learning Kalari from Thangal (Babu Antony) and with the help of his love Janaki (Priya Anand) who works at Thangal’s place as a housemaid, clandestinely observes and learns the martial art veteran’s instructional strategies from atop a tree.
When Kochunni comes across a fortune on the river bed he informs the local chieftains of it, who in turn seek his help in unearthing it. The riches and wealth hauled out of the waters, Kochunni walks away gladly with his promised pay , but is falsely alleged of stealing the gold and sentenced to severe penalty by the scheming landlords. Almost left for dead, the young man is rescued by Pakki , who breathes a new life into him.
Which brings us to where we had started off a few paragraphs earlier, and of how writers Bobby and Sanjay spring a nasty surprise on us with a script that demonstrates how cheesy things could get. Its a well known tale for sure, but in ‘Kayamkulam Kochunni’ these adept writers hardly make any winning moves that would want you to break out into an applause.
There is no point in debating on the historical accuracy of the piece, since ‘Kayamkulam Kochunni’ makes it amply clear that it has no intention of becoming a flawless period piece. Which is why you have Kochunni jumping into a well to rescue a young boy who had slipped in and coming out of it valiantly with a bonus piece – a python, to boot. A tussle ensues, and finally breaking free of the serpent’s strange, Kochunni beseeches the crowd that had gathered around, not to kill the snake.
Janaki meanwhile insists that a man who utters her name with warmth is yet to come her way, and doesn’t conceal her fascination for the man. Kochunni is quite bemused, and given the fact that the distraught Shudra girl who has had a bleak past looks like she has stepped down straight off the ramp at a Mumbai haute couture show, one shouldn’t be surprised.
The climax is much more than a mere finale; it’s a goose bump inducer of a denouement that the writers have in mind, and Kochunni gets to have his moments despite his head all set to enter the hangman’s noose. But it doesn’t let the script from sinking like lead, and it takes everything else along with it, be it the actors, the palpably solid filming labors or the first-rate technicalities that the film could be proud of.
‘Kayamkulam Kochunni’ would without doubt be remembered for the cameo that came, saw and thunderously conquered. Sporting an uncharacteristic grunt that breaks into a guffaw every now and then, Mohanlal brings in a fabulously unique distinctiveness to Pakki, who is not around for much more than fifteen minutes of screen time. Even the background score goes a bit delectably tipsy when Pakki and his freak gang are around, with the wayward notes of a hillybilly western number floating straight across, as Pakki vigilantly watches the world around with an eye almost half shut in an impish wink.
This adorability that Pakki so effortlessly generates is nowhere in sight in Kochunni, though Nivin tries, and boy, he tries real hard. There are supportive performances from actors as Sunny Wayne and Babu Antony while ‘Kayamkulam Kochunni’ also brings back to the forefront that breed of foreign actors that period films are often infamous for; the ones who go all jello wobbly in front of the camera. Binod Pradhan, Nirav Shah and Sudheer Palsane come up with stunning frames while Gopi Sundar scores a winner with the ‘Kalariyadavu..’ number.
Roshan Andrews appears out of his depth in ‘Kayamkulam Kochunni’, and it appears more like a misspent opportunity than the highly agreeable jaunt that the film should have been. Mounted on an epic scale, this is a film where the gargantuan efforts are all conspicuous, but the results quite regrettably, patchy and uneven.