‘Ee.Ma.Yau’ review: Controlled splendour

A still from Ee. Ma. Yau   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Ee.Ma.Yau has two heroes — Lijo Jose Pellissery and Shyju Khalid. And together they create that rare alchemy on screen, sweeping you into the abysses of gritty realism and rich atmospherics, a cinematic experience extraordinaire. As usual, Pellissery revels in dark humour and delicate detailing, parochial vibes and religious motifs. But what sets apart this film is its controlled splendour, the way he makes you part of this throbbing microcosm of coastal life. You are no outsider in this seaside colony of Chellanam, you can feel the sharpness of its winds and the wetness of its rains.

Pellissery gets it right from the very beginning, from the dreamy title sequence that enters and exits the screen like a surreal metaphor. In the first few minutes of the film you see Vavachan Mesthiri (Kainakari Thankaraj) — brooding, boozing, dancing and having his final fling with life. He talks about the grand funeral he has arranged for his father, squeezing out a promise for the same from his son Eeshi (Chemban Vinod Jose). Ee.Ma.Yau, an acronym for ‘Eeso Mariyam Ouseppe', is all about how the son struggles to keep his word.

From this most prosaic backdrop P.F Mathews builds an incredible screenplay, sturdy and irreverent. He creates his characters with empathy and compassion, one reason the film retains its emotional core amid all the mayhem. Their demographic credentials are raw and unforced, giving the film its satiric edge and making it a contemplation on something as profound as death.

  • Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery
  • Cast: Chemban Vinod Jose, Vinayakan, Dileesh Pothan, Pauly Valsan

Almost all actors are gloriously in-character, giving out their best. While the do-gooder friend fits Vinayakan like a glove, Pauly Valsan and Kainakari Thankaraj are in their elements offering tremendous originality to supportive parts. The film is also an extension of Lijo’s favourite evil-in-robes theme which Dileesh Pothen elevates to all- new level with his nuanced performance.

The film is also Shaiju Khalid’s cinematographic tour de force, his camera never trying to over-punctuate or underplay the terrain or tempo. Instead of loud, attention-getting tactics, he orchestrates his own visual melody and you simply sink into that. The soundscape designed by Prashant Pillai and Renganaath Ravee is equally terrific, it adds to the narrative without assaulting your senses. There is an intricate tapestry of sounds — the tonal variations of winds and waves, the resplendent rhythms of rain and the steady din of coastal life.

In Ee.Ma.Yau, Pellissery achieves a flawless merger of nearly all cinematic elements, making it an accomplished piece of art. And from its synchronised brilliance he derives that signature Latino flavour, a unique feature that marks his craft. The film has an unmistakable vision and politics, but you will find no philosophical sermons. Nor does it indulge in any kind of pseudo aesthetics as the filmmaker easily navigates you through its capricious currents of mirth and sorrow. Pellissery also places motifs and metaphorical interludes in between thematic strands, creating a kind of allegorical mosaic. In a sense it’s the kind of slightly abstract art that invites you for a second perusal to decode it.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2020 6:23:01 AM |

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