Puzhu Review: Mammootty steals the show yet again!
Cast: Mammootty, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Vasudev Sajeesh, Appunni Sasi
In a recent interview for The Cue, Mammootty can be heard saying how he believes in constantly polishing himself as an actor. Puzhu, directed by Ratheena, is proof that the legendary actor stands true to his words. Mammootty plays Kuttan, a retired police officer who is visibly an unapologetic bigot right from the beginning of the film. Puzhu, which means worm in Malayalam, seems to be an allegory for this bigotry that later, like in the mythological story of Takshaka, comes to devour him without his knowledge. It is evident that he has a hazy past that deprives him of sleeping peacefully at night.
The whole film is centered around Kuttan and his bigoted world views. Bharati (played by Parvathy Thiruvothu) is Kuttan’s estranged younger sister who married a theatre actor, Kuttappan (played by Appunni Sasi), against her family’s will. Kuttan is furious at Bharati because Kuttappan belongs to the SC/ST community. Kuttan is so disgusted and humiliated by this union that he finds it difficult to talk to people with proper eye contact. Kuttan, a widower has a seemingly complicated relationship with his pre-teen son Kichu (played by Vasudev Sajeesh). He enforces a strict routine on Kichu and punishes him like a criminal for petty mistakes. Kichu has visible hatred towards his father for all the right reasons. Kuttan is one of those people who is blinded by his upper-caste privilege and social status. He considers himself to be the victim when Bharati marries a man from the lower caste and when constant threats of security are thrown at his life. No matter how toxic his actions and words may be, he justifies them using “I’m doing it for your own good.” We can clearly see how blinded he is by his social and class privileges. There are, however, a few moments where we sympathize with Kuttan. His futile attempts at reconciling with his son do invoke a sense of pity among the viewers.
Mammootty owns the show. With the bit of twitch in his lips and eyes, he communicates the disgust Kuttan has for other communities brilliantly. Mammootty’s body language speaks so much for the kind of person that Kuttan is. It’s delightful to see how an actor with immeasurable stardom went on to portray a role that has a negative shade to it. Though he plays a character much younger than his actual age, the age difference doesn’t really come across as uncanny. Mammootty is an inspiration and gives away major superstar lessons by not letting the starry baggage prevent him or confine him with limited and predictable roles.
Puzhu is not one of those films that tell us what is right and what is wrong. It just puts the content out there and leaves it to the viewer’s moral instincts to decide. Kuttan’s actions aren’t shown as inhumane or morally wrong. They are shown as the consequences of his bigoted mindset which is eating him alive every second. Puzhu doesn’t attempt to impart a liberal sense to the casteist protagonist or try to turn him into a saint in the end. How we perceive the film is entirely based on our values.
As gripping as the climax of Puzhu is, it is also slightly disconnected from the rest of the plot. the film also feels stretched at certain points. But nonetheless, Puzhu is a brilliant telling of the casteist differences that exist in our society.
Watch on: SonyLIV
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