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‘Aavasavyuham’ movie review: Fantasy and realism find a perfect balance in this surreal mockumentary

A still from Aaavasavyuham  featuring Rahul Rajagopalan

A still from Aaavasavyuham  featuring Rahul Rajagopalan | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

What’s not to like about Aavasavyuham ( The Arbit Documentation Of An Amphibian Hunt)? Krishand RK’s second film, a mockumentary, is a deeply-sensitive story about the ecology, society and man’s interactions with nature. And yet, it does not fail to entertain with some superb acting, dialogues and scenes, some even based on real-life events. The humour is subtle and nuanced.

Surrealistic and satirical at the same time, the film artfully combines mainstream ingredients with concerns about the environment in general, and, specifically, about the ecologically fragile mangroves in Kerala. The film is set in Munnar, Azhikode and Puthuvype, places which have sizable mangrove forests. Notably, Puthuvype was in the news as a result of protests by residents and greens against the establishment of a LNG terminal there.

The film revolves around an enigmatic man, essayed by Rahul Rajagopal, who has a mystifying relationship with all creatures and nature. On a nature trail in 2015, elusive amphibians and snakes respond to the strange noises he makes. While fishing at Azhikode and Puthuvype, he has a knack for attracting shoals of fish and crustaceans. Called Joy in one part of the film, he symbolises man’s innate bond with nature and her creations. Perhaps even his name signifies the joy that humanity derives from its symbiotic relationship with nature. Though he speaks Malayalam like a native, not even his well-wishers know his origins. At one stage in the movie, scientists discover that worms removed from his body evolve into plants. If his deep ties with nature are spontaneous, his associations with human beings are artificial, confusing and riddled with problems.

Still from Aaavasavyuham 

Still from Aaavasavyuham  | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The hunt for this mysterious man runs parallel to the search for a rare amphibian. The narrative following Joy is cleverly interspersed with scenes of a scientist talking about the rare species that are found in the Western Ghats and the mangroves. Framed as a series of interviews, viewers get a picture of Joy through the eyes of the people who interacted with him in different ways. There is even an interesting sequence about Lissy, a woman from Azhikode, pining for Joy.

The film, which premiered at the 26th International Film Festival of Kerala, bagged the FIPRESCI and NETPAC Awards for Best Malayalam Film, and also won the Kerala State Film award for the best feature film (2021) and the award for the best original screenplay.

Aavasavyuham makes no bones about it being a film for the environment. However, the surrealism and magical realism in the narrative do not get drowned in the hard issues discussed in the film.

Aavasavyuham is currently streaming on SonyLIV


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2022 12:58:21 am | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/aavasavyuham-review-fantasy-and-realism-find-a-perfect-balance-in-this-mockumentary/article65745513.ece