Kerala

Giving a good feel in fits and starts

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Film: Jacobinte Swargarajyam

Cast: Renji Panikker, Nivin Pauly, Lekshmi Ramakrishnan

Direction: Vineeth Sreenivasan

Let me evoke in the audience that warm and fuzzy feeling. That’s perhaps how every Vineeth Sreenivasan project starts off. That intention is visible all over, in the tailor-made lines, in the light background music that nudges you in case you didn’t get it, in the visual treatment. ‘Jacobinte Swargarajyam,’ his fourth directorial, manages to evoke the same feeling too, with a story woven around a close-knit family.

Jacob (Renji Panikker) is a Dubai-based businessman at the top of his game. Everything is going right for him, so much so that he claims to be the ‘richest man in the whole wide world,’ though he is not pointing at his back accounts, but at his family.

The economic recession and a deal gone wrong overturns their perfect world. It is up to the aimless elder son Jerry (Nivin Pauly) to reclaim all that is lost.

Early on in the film, we see Jacob dishing out various life advices, some of them straight out of boring self-help books, to an obviously disinterested Jerry. Halfway through, he disappears totally from the screen, but we are constantly reminded of his presence with voiceovers of those past advices, every time Jerry is caught in a tight corner.

Almost every character in the film has an existence only with respect to Jacob. They are or are expected to be behaving in a certain way because they are Jacob’s son, Jacob’s wife, Jacob’s driver or Jacob’s friend. This fact is drilled in, frequently through dialogues. Renji Panikker with his commanding performance in the first half almost justifies this larger-than-life presence, even when he’s broken and absent from the screen.

The second half is a Nivin Pauly show, capturing Jerry’s transformation into a responsible family man and a clever businessman. The business success part is not always convincing, as he seems to have it easy, like the bit where he googles randomly for self-made Dubai businessmen, walks in to one of their offices, and wins a contract.

The film is based on a real life story, but we are not sure how much of it is based on actual events. The parts involving the whole family are interesting though, with the young Chris (Stacen) and Abin (Sreenath Bhasi) drawing the laughs. Lekshmi Ramakrishnan as Jacob’s wife Sherlyn delivers a power-packed performance in the latter half.

The film at time puts forward some shallow politics too, like mistaking big roads and skyscrapers for development and at one time even ridiculing the lack of ‘development’ back home. Also, not many might agree with the ‘success depends on how hard you work’ mantra that the characters swear by.

Still, ‘Jacobinte Swargarajyam’ delivers what it promises – a fun watch for the family.

S.R. Praveen

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 6:04:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/giving-a-good-feel-in-fits-and-starts/article8457056.ece

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