Cinema Expectations are high as Lijo Pellissery's City of God' releases this week. Saraswathy Nagarajan
A new bunch of young filmmakers and their films have made a powerful impact on Mollwyood. Thematically and stylistically, their movies and their craft of storytelling and filmmaking have opened a new chapter in Malayalam cinema. Lijo Pellissery is part of that youth brigade that has left an indelible impression on the screen with their maiden ventures. Although Ljo's first directorial venture, ‘Nayakan,' did not create ripples at the box office, Lijo made a splash with his slickly made film. And now expectations are quite high as Lijo reaches out to viewers with his second film – ‘City of God.'
The underbelly of a city
Lijo's ‘City of God' (nothing to do with the Brazilian flick of the same name), scripted by Babu Janardhanan, is about the underbelly of the real-estate business. Set in Kochi, the film has multiple narratives that run concurrently but intersect and collide at certain points in the film. Lijo feels the complex, intriguing and multi-layered storyline is the high point of the movie, making it a suspense-filled thriller. Is this in keeping with the trend that was ushered in with ‘Passenger,' in which the lives of several strangers get inextricably entangled? ‘Cocktail,' ‘The Metro,' and ‘Traffic' had similar stories of random characters getting enmeshed in a single narrative. Lijo begs to differ. “‘City of God' is more like several stories interacting and at times colliding into each other to narrate a gripping tale. Each character's life is almost like a separate film within a film.”
To add to the novelty value, it has brothers Indrajith and Prithviraj sharing screen space after a break. However the director clarifies that although the brothers play the lead, each actor in the film has a significant role to play in the film. “Rohini, Rima Kallingal, Parvati and Swetha Menon don important characters. In fact, I would call it a powerful, woman-oriented film with some of the most memorable women characters seen in the recent past,” avers Lijo.
The movie has been set in Kochi, which seems to the director's muse as his first film also explored the bylanes and streets of Kochi.
"Well, it's not so much about the place as about the people who live in that city. Each resident in a city will have her/his take about that place. ‘City of God' narrates a story from three perspectives; of three people living in Kochi but from very different social strata. They may inhabit the same city but the spaces they call their own are vastly different,” explains Lijo.
Indrajith plays a migrant Tamil construction worker Swarnavel who comes to Kochi for work. His place in the city is inhabited by migrant workers. All the dialogues are in Tamil and the three songs picturised on them are also in Tamil.
“It is almost like a Tamil film within a Malayalam movie. Rohini's character is perhaps her best in a long time. Parvati's Marthakam has run away from an abusive marriage and looks for a new life in the city," narrates Lijo.
Prithviraj plays Jyotilal, a wealthy but footloose youngster, Rima, an actor called Suryaprabha, and Swetha Menon, Liji Punnose, a Dubai-based wealthy business woman who is forced to stay in Kerala to sort out certain problems. "Each of my cast has done a fantastic job and I must say the same about my technical crew as well. Cinematographer Sujith's riveting work depicts some crucial scenes in just one lengthy shot. Prashanth Pillai's music had helped ‘Nayakan' and he has done the same in this film as well,” says the director.
Sound designer is Ranganath, whose last work was Gatham Menon's ‘Nadunisi Naaigal.' As ‘City of God' releases this week, Lijo must be hoping that viewers watch the flick in the theatres instead of discovering it later on the small screen