Gokulam Gopalan comes up again with another masterpiece epic production that explores the social prejudice, and injustice that prevailed in the name of the caste system, which ended during the 19th Century. The story of Pathonpatham Noottandu narrates the customs of the upper castes, such as “Aitham” and “Mulakaram,”(tax for covering breasts) which were part of the history of the old Travancore princely state.
Filmmaker, story, and Scriptwriter Vinayan has bravely created, with stunning visuals, a cinematic masterpiece with a poignant tale. He takes the audience back to the 19th Century that witnessed the reformation movement, which resulted in extensive socio-cultural changes in society.
We have heard much about the brave lady Nangeli, but not that much about Velayudha Chevakar. The producer and the filmmakers intentionally wished to uplift the name of Arattupuzha Velayudha Chekavar along with Nangeli and Kayamkulam Kochunni, which resulted in a remarkable work of art. There is no historical evidence to prove the above-manipulated plot, but very cunningly wove them up diligently.
Women of lower caste weren’t allowed to wear upper cloth, and those who dared to do, were punished. Arattupuzha Velayudha Chekavar was a self-made businessman from the lower caste Ezhava community who fought for the betterment of the discriminated caste. His efforts to uplift the community coincide accidentally with the struggles of Nangeli to find justice for women, which makes the movie Pathonpatham Noottandu great.
The meticulous attempts to depict a story from the forgotten era, cinematographer Shaji Kumar, production designer Ajayan Challissery, costumer Dhanya Balakrishnan and editor Vivek Harshan have done a fantastic job. Santhosh Narayanan's score and M Jayachandran's music enrich the movie with an enigmatic and melancholic tone, which is one of the best features.The background music, by Santhosh Narayanan, pours life into emotional scenes.
As Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker, Siju Wilson has that pride in the way he walks and talks; there is no space for doubt in the audience's minds on whether that guy is a courageous fighter. Even in delivering those cheesy protector dialogues, Siju’s voice modulation is impressive. Anoop Menon is slipping into being Anoop Menon every time he delivers dialogues as a meak ruler. Suresh Krishna and Tini Tom have made their characters look like caricatures. Kayadu Lohar, with her suitable figure and movements, did well to be a real Nangeli till her courageous end by cutting her breasts in public and succumbing to death. They have demonized the Kayamkulam Kochunni character that Chemban Vinod Jose played. Senthil Krishna’s Chirukandan has traces of his own Karumadikuttan imitation. A special mention to Gokulam Gopalan for a performance that will quickly make anyone understand that he is the one who invested money in this project to make the fictional theme mislead history indeed.
Siju Wilson showcases his lively performance as Velayudha Chekavar by syncing himself in the warriors' skin and armor. The sincere efforts of the actor evolved perfection to everything in character. His horse rides to muted responses turned the character immortal. Kayadu Lohar makes the figure and movements of a dalit woman Nangeli, who stood against casteism by revolting against the breast tax monumental. Her effortlessly moving around and giving complete justice to the legendary woman, with her tragic end needs applause. Vishnu Vinay who played Kanna Kurup has also done a fabulous job and is a promising actor. Every performer on screen was a treat to watch.
As a movie to watch with preconceived history in mind, every character played their role and justified their appearance. First time in a periodic Malayalam movie, a 'Malayalam actor came out sweet spot and explained that he could be an action hero too.
In a nutshell, Pathonpatham Noottandu is worth watching. As a manipulated story, watch it for the plot that has been ignored for several decades, and through Siju Wilson and Kayadu Lohar; Velayudha Chevakar and Nangeli are brought to us as legends. Forgetting facts and history, the movie is created for mass entertainment, and the Producer and Director managed to deliver it with amazing expertise indeed.
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