Friday, 16 June 2017

Peechaankai: All is left

The season of communism or leftism movies has never faded out in Malayalam film industry as all top stars in that industry have acted at least one movie in their career. The recent releases like Sakhavu and CIA have brought even Nivin Pauly and Dulquer Salman too into that list. While in Tamil cinema, Communism or leftism have been a part of a number of movies for a long time, but, they will always play their part in the undercurrent of the story line.

Tamil cinema, knowingly or unknowingly had always taught communism in a personified manner. Even here, almost all superstars have played roles in movies with a touch of leftism. Anbe Sivam, Uzhaippali, Kaththi, Arul, Natpu, Padagotti, Porampokku, Peranmai, Ko, Thondan, and the list runs to pages. But, almost all movies in Tamil, that either spoke leftism or communism in specific, haven't preached it right on the face but in the inner layer of their story line.

In that row, here is Peechaankai, from Tamil cinema, the industry where experimentation is often taken up in film making, and have seen a lot of movies dealing on usual plots but on unusual narrative fashions. The debutante filmmaker Ashok too has come out with a new style of narration with shades of nonsense comedy in gangster background to preach the context of left-wing politics (that sounds huge). As the title of the movie itself suggests, the movie is all about leftism, but the narration has shown it in a different tone.

Ideology and script aspect:

The protagonist of the movie Smoodhu aka S. Muthu (RS Karthik) finds himself with an insane psychological disorder, 'Alien Hand Syndrome', after meeting with an accident. With this, his philosophical right brain takes an autonomy and controls his left hand without his knowledge. Being a pickpocketer by profession, Smoodhu lands in trouble with this syndrome and apparently gets a new mission to accomplish which is the rest of the story. In this often seen gangster-politics story, Ashok has tried to convey leftism all through the run time. Basically, the undercurrent of the story line of Peechankai speaks about the fight between the inner self (leftism) and actual character (rightism) of the protagonist, and left wins at last. While in the climax, the director declares this with the dialogue of a cop saying, 'Idathu thaan valadha vida yeppavum siranthathu' (left is always better than right).

The clash between the right-wing ideology and left-wing ideology is filmed much in a subtle manner through different sequences that last not even for a couple of seconds. Some fitting examples are, buying a beer with right hand, but the same bottle is returned to the seller by the left hand, similarly, when it comes to smoking, the right hand buys a cigarette, apparently the left hand takes out cigarette from the next person's mouth and throws it away. With these two sequences, a statutory warning is cleverly delivered by the director. Similarly, a socialist idea too is conveyed in a scene, where the right hand denies to offer money to beggars, while the left hand takes out the wallet and spills out all money in it to the beggars. There is, likewise a feminism touch too in a scene where right hand slaps the love-lady and meanwhile, left hand gives her a rose.

This is how, Peechaankai preaches leftism. It is not so easy to isolate the ideology and the script of the movie from each other, as they have blend so much together. The shades of leftism starts to swell in the movie right from the beginning and touches peak in the climax where the left hand of the protagonist takes all the credit for a bigger achievement.

Casting aspect:

Firstly, its RS Krishna, who has scored like an experienced actor despite this being his first feature film. The way he expresses emotions with his left hand has made the audience unconsciously believe that he really is affected by alien hand syndrome. While, the lead actress Anjali Rao has a lesser screen space and does not have a strong role too. Her role is not given a greater importance and illogically, the love sequences between her and the protagonist happen all of a sudden. When it comes to MS Bhaskar, who, in this movie again has incarnated with a new avatar which has become a habit for him in recent days. He really has donned his role of a crooked politician who shows off a statesman face to the people.

The nonsense-comedy portion have been played by the gangsters who have some insane habits and characterisations that are gripped in their roles throughout the movie. Especially, the role of an IT-professional turned gangster played by newbie Krishna is one awesome part and resembles the role of Winnings in Maanagaram. And one more role to have a special mention is the role played by Vivek Prasanna, which is no lesser than the role of MS Bhaskar. He again has did it in his own style, which has innocence and villainism bound with each other. Especially the facial expression he emotes when hearing a Facebook comment (the director trolls himself here) for his picture, is like a masterpiece-expression of Vivek.

Technical aspect:

Peechaankai has some numbers of unique genres that is used even for the romance segment. The composer Balamurali Balu, who as well has penned a number has did a crazy musical album that suits and pairs well with the narration of Peechaankai. All three songs have an insane lyrical structure resembling the delivery fashion of the movie. While the cinematography by Gautham Rajendran too has some rare angles since many scenes in the movie have to express the emotions only through the hand of the protagonist. This cinematography is supported well by the editing of Jomin Mathew who has made Peechaankai look picture perfect.

Director's cut:

Its the director Ashok's show all the way. The detailing of every character, the expression of leftism and the social message in it, placement of several cinematic elements like hyperlink, nonsense-comedy, gangsterism, politics and songs, and above all the way he controlls the screenplay with all these random elements - Ashok has did everything perfect. May be that is why the movie seems to be overloaded content, having explored a number of platforms in a single story line. However, the message he tries to convey is well delivered.

Overall view:

On the whole, Peechaankai travels through gangsters and politicians to end up with a leftist social message. It might take time, for some audience, to understand the movie after watching it twice. Some even might not find leftism being conveyed in Peechaankai. But, the movie will not fail to entertain even them as it has a neo-age narration which entertains, and that is going to be the success of Peechaankai.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, June 16, 2017.

This viewer's note is completely the perception of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only.

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