Jallikkattu (Malayalam) Review & Rating
Jallikattu Review: Alert! Don't Call Yourself A Film Buff If You Miss this Film
One of the friends of this reviewer, an aspiring filmmaker from Andhra Pradesh, has asked me when will Jallikattu release in Andhra Pradesh or if it will release at all. Another movie buff friend of this reviewer who watched it in the Toronto International Film Festival, had made a couple of hours long phone call to talk and talk and talk about this film. That person is non-Indian. Okay! Jallikattu is as much much-awaited film in Kerala as it is outside Kerala.
Not because it has big stars. Not because it's directed by a big name director. But the filmmaker's previous works have a say in this much interest in this film outside of Kerala. Add to that, the adulation it received in the international film festival arena created an unprecedented buzz among serious or rather movie buffs who religiously love to watch great cinema irrespective of country of origin and language.
All great films have a story so simple. Says the great James Cameron. The expression of it on the big screen can be complex. With a different narration technique. But the basic story is generally simple. Lijo Jose Pellissary's Jallikattu is similar. It has a simple story. So simple a story that you will laugh at the idea if you really don't know about the film.
Let's see how simple it is!
The story of this film concerns that of a butcher. The butcher who owns a slaughterhouse in the village is Jalan Varkey. Obviously, as he's the major person in the business, almost everyone in the village depends on him. He has customers from almost all walks of society. One fine morning, the buffalo he is about to slaughter rings away from his slaughterhouse. It goes into the village first and then into the jungle nearby later.
That's all! It's the story. But the aftermath is what's the real subject of the film. A search for the buffalo starts. Almost everyone wants to catch/tame it. Soon emotions escalate and egos inflate. The mob that's now formed from the men who are out to kill the buffalo goes on a hunt.
A Jallikattu starts. Capturing and taming a bull. Just that, here we have a buffalo instead of a bull. And the arena is not restricted or closed like in real Jallikattu. The animal is not before the eyes too like in real Jallikattu. They first have to search for it. Then find it. And then have to kill it. Why? A two-day hunt follows and most of the action is set during the night. Darkness. Of course, cinematic darkness.
But is this really Jallikattu? A taming of a beast as a game that has its cultural riots in our neighboring state? Or is it a beast hunting a beast. Not to tame it. But to consume it. There is inherent violence in every human being. But it is kept under wraps to various degrees of success. See, those who don't watch a show that's running on the television may suddenly turn their attention to the screen when something like violence happens. Isn't it?
Yes. We the humans are as much the beasts living in the wild of the concrete jungles and other inhabitable places at the cost of animals. Poor wordless animals which are coping with the loss of their inhabitation. Humans might have evolved. But their animalistic tendencies have been stuck somewhere in them. Maybe the genes of our unevolved forefathers might be still running in our bodies. Or in the existence.
Thoughts and all
Lijo Jose Pellissary explores this elaborately in his film. Have you read the British classic Lord of the Flies by William Golding? A group of boys stranded on an uninhabited island due to an accident. How they govern themselves? Chaos follows. (If you have not read the book yet and is a bookworm, it is strongly recommended). When the animal in human beings is awakened all that remains is chaos.
Jallikattu is an allegorical. It may be metaphorical. It explores conflicting human emotions towards their civilized behaviour (peace and harmony) and the most primal behaviour (the will dominate others). Groupthink becomes a mob mind in a fraction of a second. Individuality which kept everyone humans till that point turns to the collective mob. When pushed to the limits, it even turns cannibalistic. Like in this film.
There won't be any rational thought process behind the collective mob thoughts. The line between moral and immoral behaviour is not just blurred but vanishes. The narration of the film is electrifying. Right from the word go, you're forcefully dragged into its world. Once the first 5-minute mark is done with, you're not in the seat in the theatre. You're in the village. And you're part of the hunt. That's how effective the storytelling is. The screenplay is powerful.
The performances are a mixed bag. There is a huge cast as demanded by the nature of the story. And everyone gets their own shining moment. But it seems none are properly given the thought of being effective on the screen. The filmmaker might have wanted to capture raw emotions pertaining to a set of humans in their own way and let the actors play it their own way. But this is just nitpicking.
The music is eerie. The sounds or the lack thereof frighten you towards the latter portions of the film. The background score goes hand in hand with the narration. It is an experience. Just close your eyes and you can imagine what's going on the screen. You'll understand it's all chaos. That how good the music is.
The cinematography is similarly terrific. The atmosphere is created in a profound manner. The lighting scheme followed is freakish good. The color palettes create such a gruesome effect on you that you'll be haunted long after watching the film. Colours can have an effect on us. And the copies are effectively used in this film. The frames are violently beautiful. The shoemaking is organic and anonymous.
Art of Editing
The production design of this film is top-notch. The locations and the artwork related to the village setting is done brilliantly. The editing is as good as it gets. The transition from one image to the other is as chaotic as the proceedings on the screen. It helped amplify the effect of the narration. The production values are sound.
Jallikattu is not just a film to enjoy. You need to have a strong will to watch it. It's not for everyone. But those who sit till the end will be rewarded with one of the greatest cinematic experiences.
- It's an example of total cinema
- Not for everyone though
Pycker Rating: 4.25 out of 5
Reviewed by: GitacharYa
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Jallikattu is one movie which is sure to place the Malayalam Cinema in the popular imagination of film buffs across the country. Ever since it was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and received rave critical acclaim, it seems like everyone's talking about the film. No. Not just in Kerala. Now that this Lijo Jose Pellissary directorial finally hits the screens today the talk and critical acclaim for this film are at an all-time high.
Jallikattu is bloody brilliant film. Kudos to the whole Team Again & Again I say this "Malayalam industry is one of the best film industries in the World, says one comment. The film is said to be one more masterpiece from Lijo Jose. Breathtaking visuals, superb background score, and good casting make this film a memorable one. It is one of the few unmissable films in recent times.
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