img256/5414/arabikatha0707071fc5.jpgBanner:    Micro Coms
Cast:    Sreenivasan,Chang Shu Min, Samvritha Sunil, Jagathi Sreekumar, Indrajeet, Jayasurya, Saadiq, Suraaj, Nedumudi Venu, Salim Kumar
Direction:    Lal Jose
Production:    Hussain
Music:    Biji Bal



After Classmates, what next?

The answer was blowing in the wind- Arabikatha. Lal Jose, the number one Malayalam director has made another gutsy, socially relevant, and an outstanding film.

In the era of superstar driven, shallow, larger-than-life filmmaking with no story line, Lal Jose and his script writer Iqbal Kuttipuram has come out with a solid film. Arabikatha is a stinging indictment of how the communist parties in Kerala, has moved away from the ordinary people its voter base, to be a party controlled by a corrupt leadership devoid of any ideology or social commitment.

The film is also an eye-opener that the decadent leadership in the party should go for a total overhaul of its image and issues that it is fighting for and takes a more pragmatic view of the changes in the society as Kerala turns global.

Right away, you are drawn into the life of ‘Cuba’ Mukundan (Sreenivasan), an old-school die-hard communist who lives for the party. He and his father ‘Society’ Raghavan are the pall-bearers of the party in Chemanoor, in Kannur district,img513/464/zhang2306071dr9.jpg the cradle of communism in the state. But there are other people in the party like Karnaran, who wants to take over the party in the village from Mukundan, for their own selfish reasons. Karnaran, works hand in glove with Kunjunni (Jagathy Sreekumar) a rich NRI, who wants to set up a leather plant in the village. ‘Cuba’ Mukundan and his friends like Abbas {Inderjeet} are opposed to it , as the plant will cause industrial pollution in the village.

Soon Karnaran and his supporters with the help of Kunjunni, are able to frame-up ‘Society’ Raghavan in a party cooperative bank fraud, at a time when he is hospitalized with a paralytic stroke. ‘Cuba’ Mukundan strictly follows the party line and suspects his father’s involvement and suspends him from the party, without conducting any investigation. The old man dies and his name is slurred, now Karnaran and other party members wants Mukundan to take ‘leave’ and go to Dubai, so that he can earn enough to pay back the money his father “misappropriated”!

Mukundan, has no gulf dreams and says –”I would rather go to Cuba or China than Dubai, to learn the working class movement!”. Finally Mukundan lands up in gulf, and is put on the job to do menial work by Karnaran’s nephew Siddharthan (Jayasurya), who arranged his visa. Mukundan is a total misfit in Dubai and just cannot handle any work pressure. He soon realizes as a party leader it is easy to talk about imperialism, at a time the meaning of the word “working-class” itself has changed.

There are so many well etched scenes in the film which exposes the hollowness of the communist ideology in a fast changing world. The scene where Mukundan meets his ‘bete-noire’ the NRI Kunjunni in his Dubai office is brilliant. Kunjunni exposes the leadership of a party of the working class, who are not used to doing hard labour, nor do they know how to operate a laptop!

Soon Mukundan realizes that today it is a materialistic world, and the old dogmas of communism are dead. But the dogmas are kept alive by the “corrupt” leadership back home, for their own survival! Dubai for Mukundan is a beginning of a new world, which earlier he never cared to know. He also meets a few good people (Augustine, Salim Kumar, Samvrutha) and a Chinese girl Shu Min (Zhang Shu Min) whom he starts admiring “because she is from China, a great Communist country”. A girl from China for Mukundan is China itself, and his admiration turns to love!Through the eyes of Mukundan the director is able to bring out the life of the ordinary gulf worker.Arabikatha, hammers home the point that some of the poorest people are those working in the gulf doing menial jobs, for the sake of their family in Kerala.

A scintillating performance from Sreenivasan is the highlight of the film. He is brilliant and lifelike, at the same time brings nervous energy and anguish to the character he performs which makes the film work. You can feel the earnestness of ‘Cuba’ Mukundan’s intentions, the wetness of his tears through Sreenivasan. Zhang Shu Min the Chinese for a newcomer has played the role with a lot of sensitivity. Jayasurya in a negative role is a revelation. Inderjeet, Samvrutha, Jagathy, Saleem Kumar, Augustine and a host of newcomers have given spellbinding performances.
Manoj Pillai, the cameraman has taken us to never seen before (in earlier films) locations in Dubai, Abudhabi and Sharjah and matched it well with Kerala’s green look. Lal Jose has introduced a new music director Biji Bal and lyric writer Anil Pachooran, who are impressive with Tharatha Malarukal… sung by Vineeth Srinivas and Sujatha being the pick of the lot. On the downside, the second half the film sags and does not have enough entertainment elements as the subject is a bit dry.

On the whole Arabikatha is compelling and brave film. Lal Jose pushes the cinematic envelope and brings a savvy freshness to Malayalam cinema, hitherto unexplored.

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