Bombay Showcase

Disappointing return of the maestro

Some of the dialogue sounds like it belongs to the theatre of a bygone era  

A short sequence early in Pinneyum serves a grim warning as to what might lie ahead, that you could be in for a disappointment if you are expecting the classic Adoor Gopalakrishnan cinema of yesteryear.

Purushothaman Nair, played by Dileep, is shown reading an Agatha Christie novel, loudly hinting at his future criminal turn, in a scene reminiscent of the not-so-cerebral thrillers. The reference does not stop here. His uncle proceeds to talk to him about thriller novels, just in case the viewer did not catch the title of the book. From that point, all your hopes of a nuanced, layered narrative, which we have taken for granted from Gopalakrishnan, start to recede slowly.

In the twelfth film of his five decade-long career, Gopalakrishnan draws the thread of his narrative from a much talked-about incident which happened in Kerala in the 1980s — the case of Sukumara Kurup, who murdered a man to fake his own death and claim the huge insurance amount. That plot had failed and Kurup is still missing. The film explores the human frailties that lead to such a crime and, how it affects those close to the criminal.

Purushothaman Nair has been hunting unsuccessfully for a job for years, making him the object of scorn for his employed wife Devi (Kavya Madhavan) and her family. He lands a job in the Gulf after much effort. Their life starts displaying a semblance of prosperity and contentment. He gets showered with love and respect by his wife and the society. Then, greed takes over, when all seems well.

Pregnant with possibilities, that plot point was deserving of a deep study of the human psyche as in Gopalakrishnan’s Elippathayam (1981) or Vidheyan (1993). But it’s not to be, as a string of over-dramatic performances take the film on a downward spiral. Even a natural performer like Srinda Ashab hams her way through. Some of the lines that the characters deliver sound like they belong to the theatre of a bygone era.

The timelines look particularly messed up. When the film shifts to the present day there are no changes around to mark it; those scenes could very well have been from the 1980s too. This is surprising, coming from a director, who is known for his attention to detail.

Other than the Agatha Christie reference, there is nothing that convinces you that this is a man capable of a crime, leave alone a pre-meditated one.

There is also no proper build-up to how those around him become willing conspirators.

If the intention was to show how even seemingly normal people can be blinded by greed, it does not get conveyed. Love here leans more on verbosity, through voice-overs of written letters and ‘I feel how deep your love is’ kind of lines. You hardly feel it, except in those few scenes where Devi emotes effectively.

Pinneyum is almost an anachronism in 2016 and lacks everything that makes Gopalakrishnan’s old classics an engaging watch even today.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 9:00:21 AM |

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