The movie has been set in the eighteenth century time frame and the movie crew has taken its best care and attention to see that the set totally merges with the age old times. Not that we would have a clue if it really did, but then I must say careful research must have gone into the prevalent clothing, warfare, style, language, practices and manners of late 1790's.
Pazhassi Raja was the only king who did not want to surrender to the British and accept their rule in Kerala's Talessery Fort which was part of Madras Presidency back in 1790s. He did not believe in the rule of British , who were mere traders of all the natural treasures of God's Own Country. Pazhassi Raja formed an army which had both men and women in it; trained all of them and then fought the Britishers' attacks, day and night. It seemed that at that point of time, life was all about survival and just staying alive. The British atrocities increased day by day and there was a point when the people couldn't handle it any more; Their last ounce of strength and resistance started to fade off because of a lot of their close folks getting killed in the war. Pazhassi Raja and his associates stood it all and gave their life for homeland.
The women folk in the movie captured my attention a lot. Maakam, Pazhassi's wife is very beautiful and fits into the role very well. You can see the love she has for Pazhassi, throughout the movie, in every shot. Perfect supporter, sincere lover, and a very brave lady - that is the characterization I could see of Makkam. Neela, the wife of another warrior was a complete surprise. Her strength and fitness amazed everyone in town. She lost her soul mate in the war; fought her best for the homeland. She is portrayed to be a child-like individual, very patriotic, very bold, very much a warrior and a very emotional girl full of love for her warrior hero and full of admiration for Pazhassi Raja's command, strength and rule. For that matter, everyone admired Pazhassi.
Mamooty, Sharathkumar, Manoj Vijayan, Kanya and Padmapriya played the key roles. The movie also had the usual Malayalam stars without whom Malayalam film industry would not be what it is today. Ilayaraja has scored the music and has done a fabulous job. I am no music whiz to talk about his music and do not have any words to explain the beauty of every single word written for the songs. Standing ovation to the lyricist of a particular song which had this line: I can see your face in the flame of every lamp lit in this house. The Malayalam line was more flowery and nicer. Kanya's face glowed in love and the light; it is quite a sight, very difficult to achieve through any amount of lighting effects or computer stunts. Less dialogues and more of silence, this seemingly celestial beauty complimented the song very well. I enjoyed the stunt scenes every bit, except that the war left me thinking about the point of all the blood shed after all... We must thank God that we were not around to see the First or the Second world war. If you've seen a war and survived through all the devastation, I must say you have all the strength..
Impossible to miss scenes:
The foreigner explaining the meaning of "Adithi Devo Bhava"
The foreigner saying Pazhassi is a gentle man.
Mamooty trying to tell Kanya that he doesn't want to say Good Bye.
Mamooty consoling Padmapriya with his hand on her head.
Padmapriya's war fare and stunts.
Kanya, as a beautiful painting straight from the mythological books that speak of celestial damsels.
All key players in Malayalam have a role in the movie.
The scene when Pazhassi does in early morning prayers in a lake in the forest. Picturization of the nature's bountiful beauty is just excellent; of course that's an understatement, but there is only so much I am able to write about the scene. I did not blink throughout. [Should direct a three hour movie about nature's beauty only, someday.]
- The Talaserry leaders believed that General Duncan will not harm any woman, and they really did not, throughout the movie.
- When Pazhassi had to leave his palace, someone brought him a lot of money that he can use to build his army. No questions were asked about the calculative aspects. Money was not the point in question; when it came to helping someone in need, people always came forward.
- Women in the family were bold. They did worry about their men who went out to fight, but did not stop them or discourage them.
- Women in the family were very supportive.
- People treated each other with respect and also respected each other's privacy.
- Friendship flag stood very tall. Sharath kumar and Pazhassi.
- Approach life with reckless abandon is a saying that we've often heard - people did not worry too much about going ahead and doing what they can to their fullest potential. 'Hit or miss, that's all can happen anyways' was their attitude.
- There was beauty in the way women carried themselves - they followed the four traits that is said of an Indian woman back in tamil folk tales - Accham ( Fear of doing things that can be predictably dangerous to their family values ) Maddam ( portrayed idiocy when required, in front of their men and guests; for instance, if someone has an enthusiastic story to tell and she has heard it already, the girl with the 'maddam' sense in her, will not really show that she knows it; she wont mind listening it all over again, just to not spoil the enthusiasm of the one who is telling it.) Naanam (Shy to do things that are against her personal and family values; remembering to behave like a lady in front of others, mostly referred to men folk)Payirppu ( Noticing certain things in the family, but finding appropriate person to say it through and the right time to pronounce it.)
I can write more, but will stop here, as I am quite tired with the thought that India has come a long way in many ways, but has dwindled a lot in the values that this movie portrays and the ones I listed in the beginning of this article.
Ten pages have been torn from a long historical note and made into a beautiful movie. It is a must-see and worth every penny of my movie ticket today. The theatre plays National Anthem before every movie and today, I guess the Anthem matched the essence of the movie quite well. Minuses, well, I didn't notice and neither do I care to.
One word : Pazhassi Raja - A crisp snapshot of a glorious past that gives us a sense of pride and patriotism.