Friday Review

A spirited friendship

Prithviraj and Anoop Menon in a still from 'Pavada'

Prithviraj and Anoop Menon in a still from 'Pavada'   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

'Pavada', directed by G. Marthandan and starring Prithviraj in the lead, explores the tale of an unlikely camaraderie.



Malayalam cinema twirls into the New Year with a Prithviraj-starrer, Pavada (meaning skirt), which releases in theatres today. One wonders, though, what such a girly garment as a skirt has got to do with a film about alcoholics. Well, at least, that’s what the trailer implies: a bunch of tipplers, led by a deliciously unkempt Prithviraj and Anoop Menon, in an equally bedraggled avatar, boozing and making merry, with bits and pieces of court scenes, political rallies, a trip to a de-addiction centre, and even fights thrown in for good measure. No skirt in sight.

“That’s the mystery,” says director G. Marthandan. “The term pavada evokes nostalgic memories for Malayalis, doesn’t it?” he adds, cryptically, artfully dodging further attempts, cajoling and haranguing even, to get to the bottom of the title. After a pause he says: “It really will ruin the suspense if I reveal anything else about the title. The trailer has been made with clippings from the first half of the film only. On that note, Pavada is an entertainer and not a suspense thriller. It is a tale of friendship of a different kind; an unlikely friendship between two people, one old and one young, from vastly different socio-economic backgrounds; a friendship that’s forged over a bottle, or several bottles, for that matter.”

Alcohol and alcohol consumption is a sore subject for many Malayalis and not exactly something to be celebrated… “That’s exactly why the film will appeal to family audiences. This is a story that will be familiar to many people, for we see the effects of alcohol consumption all around us. It’s not a film that promotes alcoholism, though. We do talk about its ill effects but we’ve taken care so that it doesn’t sound preachy,” says the director.

Changanassery-native Marthandan, a long-time associate to some of Mollywood’s top directors such as Renjith, Anwar Rasheed, Shaji Kailas, Shafi and Lal, to name a few, debuted in Mollywood with Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus, starring Mammootty in the lead. He followed it up last year with Acha Din, another Mammootty starrer. Pavada is his third film. The film has been scripted by Bipin Chandran, who wrote hits such as Best Actor and 1983 and is produced by actor Manianpilla Raju, who, incidentally, plays an important role in the movie. “I was drawn to the story. It’s a script that allows the actors to explore their histrionic skills and I’ve utilised their potential to the maximum,” says Marthandan.

Prithviraj stars as ‘Pambu’ Joy. He’s a school dropout, who ekes out a living as an odd jobs man in his village near Pala. He’s married to the long-suffering Sinimol (Miya), a nurse. “Joy’s life is completely out of control. He’s also quite irresponsible, rather happy-go-lucky and couldn’t care less of what people think of him. He’s actually a do-gooder with a large heart but, unfortunately, his good deeds are overshadowed by his crapulence,” explains Marthandan. The director can’t stop gushing about his star.

“People say that comedy is not Prithviraj’s forte. We aim to dispel that image. This is not a comedy but the story is laced with humour and Prithviraj is incredible in it. Not only is he approachable and friendly, his histrionic range has to be seen to be believed, making him a dream to work with for any director. I’ve found him to be a lot like Mammukka in that respect. They both have the same personalities,” he adds.

The other key role in Pavada is that of Anoop, who dons the role of a grizzled old drunkard Babu Joseph, a professor of English. Joy and Pillechan (Nedumudi Venu) take care of the professor’s home.

Joy and the professor soon become firm friends. Only, the professor holds the key to Joy’s past – the reason why Joy is now an alcoholic.

Biju Menon, Asha Sharreth, Chemban Vinod Jose and Murali Gopy are also part of the cast.

The film's songs are composed by Aby Tom Cyriac and actor Jayasurya has sung a number, while Pradeep Nair has cranked the camera.

“I’ve been in this industry since 1995. I don’t have much knowledge to comment on the state of Malayalam cinema but only my steadfast belief that good cinema will always find an audience, whatever time and age the industry passes through. Pavada is one such good film, one with a lot of soul,” says Marthandan.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 1:40:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/A-spirited-friendship/article13999406.ece

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