Ever since Chaithu watched this film at D Cinemas at Chalakudy (he actually watched it on a return trip from Angamaly) he has been recommending it to me and last week I did and I haven’t stopped watching scenes and (maybe even the entire movie) multiple times. Here’s a brilliantly made film and a very good “all-round entertainer”. More on that later but in my opinion I highly recommend it for submission from India for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars and I will not be surprised even if it takes the Oscar. That’s probably a very tall claim but if director Anurag Kashyap calls this film his best so far in 2017 and if actors Mohanlal, Nivin Pauly and Prithviraj, and director Karthik Subbaraj are heaping accolades for this film it is not without reason.
So what’s so amazing about this film? Read On…
i. A film with 86 debut actors?
Yeah, you read that right! Every face you get to see in this movie (86 of them, mostly in a major role) is appearing on film for the first time.
For many of us who have been watching movies all our lives we are aware of several actors who haven’t learnt their trade (how to act) even after spending decades in the industry and here is Lijo Jose, director of “Angamaly Diaries”, who delivers a “classic” with 86 actors making their debut, making them look like veterans of the trade. Pulling off a movie as this with actors facing the camera for the first time, is just unbelievable. Every tiny role is played to perfection. Other than the protagonist and the villain it is difficult to name any single character who singly stands out for his or her performance. Such is the performance. Characters such as “10ml Thomasettan“, “Uclamp Rajan“, friends Bhiman, Porkku Varkee, Varkee’s fiancee Alice, even the girl who plays the protagonist’s sister (a small role by Athira Patel) stole my attention. The only one character who I thought was losing it was Reshma Rajan, the lady who played “Lichy” in the film but what a beautiful twist she also brings to film that justifies her role too. And yes, I must also add that in Antony Varghese, Mallus have found their successor or even the replacement for Nivin Pauly.
ii. Surreal camera work
If you have been watching films you’ll know how single-take long shots are extremely difficult to make. Now, check this out! The climax of the film has a 11 minute single-take shot. This single shot also employs over a 1000 extras. It is incredible to think how the makers of the film could create something as this. I am sure you’ll be amazed.
Besides the climax scene, there are several action scenes where you wonder how they managed to take moving shots so smooth.
iii. Music and Audio
In the beginning of the movie, hearing the repeated blaring of the same tone of a trumpet got me curious. It sounded a bit brash and boring too. Later when it is heard again and when it is turned into an instrumental version of the Tamil hit, “Sakala Kala Vallavan”, I was hooked. What to say of the audio, particularly in the single-take 11 minute climax scene then. For aspiring Movie Audio Engineers this is the scene to watch and learn.
Music throughout is minimalist but effective. Lovely folk numbers have been used and even a Hindi song in one of the most delightful scenes of the film. Very innovative.
iv. Reality at its best
I have complained about overly done boozing and smoking shots in Malayalam movies but in this one where it looks very natural it only adds to the raw nature and reality of the Angamali rowdy and gangster lives. “Angamali Diaries” delivers a natural movie sans filthy language, mindless bloodletting or gore. There is also a decent dose of comedy, filled with the Thrissur slang. Chemban Vinod Jose (who is also an actor himself) did a great job with the script. By the way, there is enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat, too. If you don’t know Malayalam or aren’t familiar with the slang you will definitely miss something but there’s so much this movie offers that one cannot not help falling in love with this film.
Like me if you are a sucker for romance, this movie has it. I haven’t watched sweeter romance as this in a very long time. Without any spoilers, I’ll let the film reveal it for you.
vi. The best part
I saved the best for the last, the single thing that moved me the most and in my opinion the reason why “Angamaly Diaries” literally shines. The way “Forgive and Forget” has been depicted, unlike never before, on screen is something that will move you. Towards the end of the movie, how friends and enemies come together is just beautifully pictured, you wish everyone could live in a brotherhood and a camaraderie as this.
Highly recommended. Go for this movie.