‘Palthu Janwar’ movie review: Basil Joseph shines in a middling feel-good drama

There is authenticity in how the film portrays its protagonist and his world, but the obstacles mounted on him seem too manageable to evoke any highs

September 02, 2022 04:40 pm | Updated 05:33 pm IST

Basil Joseph in stills from ‘Palthu Janwar’ 

Basil Joseph in stills from ‘Palthu Janwar’  | Photo Credit: shijin P Raj

Identifying a high point in Palthu Janwar can be a challenging task. The film coasts along on a level tone with even the biggest obstacles in front of the protagonist appearing to be manageable. Everything about the film is mellow, including the setting, which is a quiet, remote high-range village. Yet, Sangeeth P. Rajan’s debut movie is marked by a certain authenticity in the way it portrays its central character and his world, one he inhabits against his wishes. This somewhat makes up for the movie’s other failings.

Prasoon (Basil Joseph), who is passionate about animation, gets a compassionate appointment after his father’s death, as a livestock inspector in a panchayat, where almost every other household seems to rear cattle. The man feels that he is not fit for the job, after some early reverses in his stint. His feelings get strengthened when he is saddled with the blame on various issues for which he is not responsible.

Palthu Janwar
Director: Sangeeth P. Rajan
Cast: Basil Joseph, Shammi Thilakan, Indrans, Unnimaya Prasad
Storyline: Prasoon, a youth who is passionate about animation, is forced to take up the job of a livestock inspector in a remote panchayat after the demise of his father.

Films and books in recent years have been telling us to quit uninteresting jobs and follow our passion. Palthu Janwar tells us the opposite, in a story wrapped in a coming-of-age template. It is about adapting to the job you get, even if you have no aptitude for it. Give anything sufficient time and you will get good at it is the underlying message here.

In that respect, it is an anti- Wake Up Sid. Interestingly, the script of the film, written by Vinoy Thomas and Aneesh Anjali, also speaks about the love for living beings. Although from the negative portrayal of the village butcher, who is shown as waiting for a cattle’s death, one is not sure on what the script says about the politics of meat-eating and the targeted violence over beef.

Basil Joseph, who outshined everyone else with his acting in Jan. E. Man, yet again proves that he is equally at ease in front of the camera, as much as he is behind it. So is Johny Antony, who for a change gets a serious character. The humour in the movie is also not loud, going with its overall tone. The exception, of course, is the character played by Shammi Thilakan, the senior veterinarian, who is obsessed with ponzi pyramid schemes, into which he tries to enrol his subordinates as well.

Though the script, at the halfway point, brings in a seemingly major conflict for the protagonist, it turns out to be a rather minor one and a small step in the city-bred youngster’s gradual adaptation to a new job and a new place — something that would not have happened without the help of his veterinarian friend (Sruthi Suresh), who is always on call at the other end. This event that seems life-changing for him might appear to be a routine occurrence for others, but all that goes on in its background makes it an effective sequence.

Palthu Janwar does not hit any high point, but works just fine as a quiet, middling, feel-good drama.

Palthu Janwar is currently running in theatres

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