Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery
Cast: Indrajith, Fahadh Fazil, Joy Mathew, Swati Reddy, Natasha Sahgal and Rachana Narayanankutty
Director Lijo Jose Pellissery has chosen to liberally experiment with his latest movie Amen . He mixes lyrical love deftly with dreams, drama, music and a message, to come out with a brilliant cinema, the genre of which is not quite familiar to Malayalam filmdom. Its canvas big, characters clear, frames mostly wide-angle rich, graphics sound, and the making commendable.
The fairy tale-like comedy opens out through a series of realistic events with magical overtones. The audience gets to savour a love story embedded in a social milieu where characters often react shockingly to seemingly normal situations and exchange spicy dialogues and smutty jokes.
Amen , written by P.S. Rafeeque, is in simple terms about the conflict between good and evil. In Kumarangiri village, the fictional setting of the film, it manifests in different forms such as the clash between virtues and wealth, and arguments for and against the construction of a new church after demolishing a centuries-old one, believed to have the presence of a saviour saint.
In that way Amen is also a film about the conflict between real spirituality and institutionalised religiosity that often pass for spirituality today. Allegorically it becomes the rivalry between the two band groups (Geevarghese Band Group and the Martha Mariyam Band Troup) in the movie.
The love story between Solomon (Fahadh Fazil) and Sosanna (Swati Reddy), members of the two warring groups or families, is only a means to cinematically communicate that conflict.
Actor-director Joy Mathew, who dons the role of Fr. Ottaplakan, who represents the villainies of degenerated priesthood and Indrajith, who perform as Fr. Vincent Vattoli, representative of real spirituality, have done a commendable job. Fahadh is cool, composed, and up to the rigours of the role. In Amen , after a break, Kalabhavan Mani gets a meaty role.
The period of the movie is a bit hazy, though some misleading clues are given in the costumes. Soon we realise that the period is irrelevant considering the fable-like narration and the timeless virtues it stands for.
Music plays an important role in Amen , and is used more than once to advance the plot, giving the movie certain characteristics of a musical. Lijo has portrayed the cultural richness of the region where Amen is set, with his cinematographer Abinandhan Ramanujam attending admirably to the minute details.
The viewers are given a short introduction to Kumarangiri ahead of the movie. Apparently there is no one in the village who hasn’t hummed a song or hasn’t had a love story to tell. That sets the tone of the movie.