Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi (Blue skies, green waters, red earth). There is something in the very title that connects. For when was the last time we really saw the wide firmaments, the deep waters and the picturesque world around? Stuck within the four walls of our mechanical existences, the title beckons you to go out there, on the road and explore. Explore the world outside and the more complex one inside.
In Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’, protagonists Sal and Dean knew that they ought not to stop till they get “there”. Where they were unsure of, but they knew they must keep going. Their “life on the road” defined the Beat Generation of post-war America.
In Sameer Thahir’s latest directorial venture, Kasi (Dulquer Salman), along with friend Suni (Sunny Wayne), hits the road in search of answers. Unlike Kerouac’s characters, this is not a journey for the sake of one, but one in which the destination is more or less in sight.
Nevertheless, this journey of self-introspection that also touches upon politics, love, friendship, family, religion and revolution is one of the most intense coming-of-age movies in Malayalam. Unlike Bollywood’s Dil Chahta Hai or Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, the film does not celebrate breathtaking locales, but rather focuses on the ride.
This is one movie that delivers what it promises. On the road through and through, the film is a visual treat, with riveting music and minimalist dialogue. Kasi begins his journey from Kozhikode to the North-East, first to get over, and then to find his love Assi (Surja Bala). He is joined by his friend Suni and their camaraderie is beautifully depicted, not through tall claims of friendship, but knowing glances and friendly pats. The motorcycle, signboards, milestones and traffic signs too take on a character of their own in the movie.
Kasi and Suni meet many others on their trip — some who have lost their way and some in search of newer trajectories, but they all have their own destinations and must go their separate ways.
Dulquer Salman delivers an intense performance as Kasi who maintains a calm exterior even when torn apart by myriad inner conflicts.
His powerful narration sets the pace for the journey, and never once falters. All the actors — even the ones in minor roles — put up compelling performances. Sunny Wayne, Surja Bala, Ena Saha and Dhritiman Chatterjee deserve special mention.
But it is Hashir Mohamed’s well-crafted script with smart one-liners and casual yet deep observations; Gireesh Gangadharan’s stunning visuals and Sameer Thahir’s directorial mastery that make the ride worthwhile.
That said, this is no dream ride either. The movie loses steam in parts in the second half, and the climax could have been more powerful. It also cannot be overlooked that the film appeals to a very niche audience — the English-speaking, mall trotting, urban youth.
But given the youthful exuberance of the movie and its ability take you along on the ride, these cannot be listed as hurdles. Like you must hit the road to feel the real adrenaline rush, you must hit the theatres to truly experience this riveting ride. Bon voyage!
Film: Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi
Director: Sameer Thahir
Cast: Dulquer Salman, Sunny Wayne, Surja Bala, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Ena Saha