There are average or bad films with huge star cast backed by humungous budgets that get a lot of media attention. And there are some good films made with no big stars and with moderate budgets which don’t get much of media attention. Meppadiyan (“Above mentioned” in Malayalam) actually belongs to the above mentioned category. And I see that there are many Malayalam films these days which fall in this category – All good films, technically made well and with some amazing local talent.
The overarching theme of Meppadiyan is nothing novel at all. In fact, in Malayalam cinema itself, we have seen many films with this theme right through the 80’s. This film is about “land acquisition” and revolves around the struggles of a middle class individual in dealing with the pulls, pushes and pressures from friends, family, local leaders, middle men and of course local administrative authorities in getting a land transaction done in small town Kerala. I specifically mentioned “land acquisition” because of the twist at the end.
What makes the film still interesting, watchable and hence engaging is the realism dripping in the narrative. The theme may be old but ironically even today the struggles shown are there for real. The film itself claims that it is based on true events. We may mistake the film for a Sathyan Anthikad one for its treatment or for that matter Mohanlal’s 80’s films with Director Priyadarshan but without the humour.
The role of the main protagonist is played by Unni Mukundan. I have not seen many of his films but he is earnest in his portrayal as the guy who gets sucked into a quagmire and had to deal with the problems almost all alone. He is ably supported by a very good supporting cast that includes Saiju Kurup as his scheming friend and Indrans who are as usual impressive. There is no meat in the roles of the women in the film and they come as just placeholders.
Like in many of the recent Malayalam films, the film is set in a small town in Kerala and captures the nativity of the land accurately. The pace is slow particularly in the first half but picks up in the 2nd half and keeps us hooked. The young Director Vishnumohan gives a good account of himself in ensuring that the making of the film is real and interesting. Camera work is impressive in capturing the sights and colours of Kerala.
For those interested in real, slice of life Malayalam films in general, I would recommend Meppadiyan as a good watch. Its streaming now on Amazon Prime.