Kumbalangi Nights Review - Blooming Tale of Love amidst Destruction
For a while, we see the men in Kumbalangi Nights.. with a heavy stroke of masculinity. In the very first scene, we see Bobby entering like a rogue, putting food on his plate, drinking a glass of alcohol and behaving like a thug! We see Bony all composed and pulsed up. We see Saji soberishly stretching his body, looking Bobby with a disgust and gulping down from a bottle of alcohol. There is a scene where Bobby gets slapped for forcibly kissing Babymol in a theater. And.. what is the film they are watching? Arjun Reddy!
To top it all.. the first time we see Shammy, he keenly trims down his moustache, very machoistically. There is a Bindi by the side of that mirror. He scraps it away with a razor blade and washes it in the basin. Looking at the mirror, he utters to himself.. 'Raymond - A complete man!'. We get this in full sense only as the film unfolds!
Kumbalangi Nights is an ensemble of manned up men gradually loosing their muscles down.. embracing the emotions.. turning vulnerable and getting back to their roots, which is, Love! There are several visceral moments that you can hardly explain in words. The scene where the brothers meet their mother.. The sequence where Saji pleads Sakthi to forgive him.. Or a moment like one where Saji leaves the home as Bony beats him up for hitting Frankie.. the wave of emotions are too much to handle.
The characters are beautifully humane. Like Bobby who is always with a hanging Bluetooth speaker.. Babymol, who works at the eco-tourist resort, even at the verge of breaking down asking Bobby to not leave the plastic bottle.. Bony, who is mute himself (played intensely by Sreenath Bhasi) finding a companionship with the tourist Nyla.. everything is heartfelt!
A tale of love and hope that blossoms out of a family in destruction is told with a conviction! In a beautiful scene.. when Sakthi expresses that she wants to leave the house, she tells, she has been cursed by her mother that wherever she goes, the place will get doomed.. Bobby reverts back at her saying, she has found the best place as there is nothing more left here to be ruined. It is this sense of confrontations that makes this film a heartwarming celebration of life in all its reality.
In a terrific sequence.. Saji and Bobby breaks down as they confess their internal sorrows. Saji talks to this therapist and Bobby to Babymol. The edit here is interestingly done. We keep cutting to and fro to both of them. It is at this point we get that how these four brothers - Saji, Bony, Bobby and Frankie, are related to each other. We get that Saji and Bony has no relation at all yet they share a strong bond between them. Bobby says they exist so because they have been playing together since their parents first night.
In other words.. Kumbalangi Nights is an extraordinary show of performances. Soubin plays Saji with a heavily choking sorrow behind his timid breakdowns. Look at the scene where he hugs Bobby and tells him that Napoleon's sons will never fall down. He has given this character blood and soul! So is Shane Nigam playing Bobby. There is so much subtle reactions and gestures that make the character effortlessly nuanced.
And what can one say about Fahadh Faazil playing Shammy? Without spoiling much, in a role that holds screentime of barely 30 minutes.. his presence is terrifying! He represents the extreme end of patriarchy and masculinity. The last act is his one man super show down!
Sushin Shyam's music spells the film altogether. The track 'Cherukal' is so serene that the moment you see Sakthi coming towards the home in a boat.. you sense the redemption that's about to happen in the house. The imagery reminds you off Mother Mary with a child Christ in her hand. Shyju Khalid's cinematography that blooms over the deconstructed house.. moonlit river.. hands.. writes the film on its own way! Saiju Sreedharan's editing breathes life to the vignettes and moments packed together!
Half the glory of the film is to Syam Pushkaran.. the writer! With a story that keeps shifting moods, at times, even genres, yet have a hold of its story and telling is all the way about how in-depth the writing that backs up the film is! Nazriya, Fahadh, Dileesh and Syam himself have produced the film. It is no longer a wonder that Malayalam Cinema is making the best of films in our country!
Madhu C Narayanan's highly impressive directorial debut 'Kumbalangi Nights' is a commotion of writing, performances and film-making. It is just Febrauary and here is a masterpiece from Malayalam already!