Kayamkulam Kochunni Review: A Period drama which stumbles but manages a clean finish
Slowly Malayalam cinema is also entering the club of gathering potential crores with high budget historical movies. The legend of Kayamkulam Kochunni is taken from Kottarathil Shankunni’s Ithiyhamala. He is a person who lived in the Southern part of Kerala during the early British reigns. Most popularly known as the Robin Hood of Kerala, the legend recounts him as a symbol who fought against economic injustices of that time. We have to remember that Kerala was entrenched in a deeply segregated system of caste, resulting in the poor being denied all rights. But the narratives familiar to Keralites, are the tales of Kochunni who dealt with daily issues rather than a widespread agitation against the British. The movie attempts to do that. One can also find that this alternative history in Mammootty‘s Pazhassiraja where the conflict escalated from local to national.
The problem here was the inadequate training that Nivin Pauly has undertaken for an accurate historical role, the oddly timed item song being a prime example. As said before, we do not know much about Kochunni, but that doesn’t bestow the creative freedom to the movie makers to distort him as a cheeky lover next door. The Kochunni we remember is the hot-blooded and bloody character portrayed by Manikuttan in the TV series.
Kochunni is portrayed as a champion and savior of the downtrodden. A personal experience makes him understand how a thief is looked upon in a society. However, he takes care that his exploits are for the right cause. The first half is more focussed on the development of character into the role that we know him of. The romance that Kochunni develops seems artificial and untimely forced. Also, the character Janaki by Priya Anand seemed very shallow and anachronistic. However, one is forced to admit the acting skills of Babu Antony and Sunny Wayne. Antony who appears as a martial art tutor has really gained the appreciation of the audience.
However, it was Mohanlal as Ithikara Pakki who stole the show. He doesn’t have much screen presence, but nevertheless a towering one. It was he who gained more applause than the protagonist. He arrives in a crucial situation. The second half is more thrilling as Kochunni becomes more recognized. However, the movie Incorporates a thrilling element until the end – a distinction between history and the movie is evident. The setting is of the erstwhile Travancore state, but since modern-day Kayamkulam is much different, the location was Sri Lanka for the most part. Another issue with the movie was that of usage of standard Malayalam instead of using dialectical variations at that time.
The song Kalriyadavum is a very good number by Shreya Ghoshal, but the awkwardness still sticks. Their desynchronized chemistry isn’t left unnoticed. Historical dramas aren’t much appreciated in Kerala as seen with Urumi, Kammara Sambhavam and Pazhassiraja and it is doubtful whether Kochunni will enter the box office as a milestone. But it is definitely a power packed and action-oriented movie which will be welcomed by families across Kerala.