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'Names Unknown' - Movie review

Aided by subtitles, the story is more visual than verbal. And there's a message for anybody who has ever been in a city. The finest part is that it's delivered through actions, not words

'Names Unknown'
U; Drama
Director: Dr. Bijukumar Damodaran
Cast: Govardhan B.K, Indrans, Suraaj Venjarammoodu
Rating: 4 stars

A still from 'Names Unknown'
A still from 'Names Unknown'

Every year, several humble gems from regional cinema come and go without our city getting a whiff. We get to know about them when they bag some award or earn accolades at international film festivals. Given the fact that we are neck-deep in Bollywood and Hollywod films, variety is always welcome. Reasons strong enough to appreciate a Malayalam film receiving a Friday release for a change. Originally titled 'Perariyathavar', it doesn't divert from its set path even once. Aided by subtitles, the story is more visual than verbal. And there's a message for anybody who has ever been in a city. The finest part is that it's delivered through actions, not words.

Contrary to the oh-so-obvious Kerala settings, it's difficult to pinpoint the tale of a widower (Suraj Venjaramoodu) and his beloved son (Indrans) to just one particular state. As the movie walks ahead — there's no need to rush as every frame is adequate in its own, leaving little space for gimmicks — it becomes apparent that the two protagonists can be transplanted to any other bourgeoning city in India without altering the cinematic aesthetics. A father's determination to ensure poverty doesn't come in the way of his son's dreams adds to the universal theme while the ground realities of his job as a scavenger do not change. Their struggles and their reconciliation with what is going on are sensitively showcased.

Around these two heartwarming characters, the clash between the urban and the rural sides of the country takes place. The filth on the main roads or the choking polythene bags in a pond on the outskirts act as mere metaphors. What's touching is the manner in which the overall story is treated. The dignity provided to the supporting cast and genuineness of the situations portrayed almost makes you want to touch the screen — if not the characters.

Also, there are hidden symbols at every nook and corner of this movie. For instance, when the credits roll, you can not only sit and wonder why there was a quarrel between the driver and a biker but also be amazed by the suddenness of its picturisation. Like said earlier, the entire film is a visual treat and yet the message is not lost — thankfully.

In terms of onscreen performance, Venjaramoodu is remarkable as a brooding but delightful man. His filial chemistry with Indrans is one for the text books.

Don't miss this one, especially if you are one of those who still thinks Malayalam is a funny-sounding language.

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