Two years ago, young director Lijo Jose Pellissery made a exploding debut into filmdom with his maiden film ‘Nayakan’. Though the movie didn’t do well in the Box Office, it displayed a refreshingly good storyteller and a director who concentrates on substance as well as on styles.Now with the new movie ‘City of God’ Lijo makes a ample revisit, in fact a homage to Brazilian classic and the cinema of yore with the same name, repeating its patterns and styles of storytelling.For discerning audience this could be a reason enough to go out and grab tickets for one of the keenly anticipated films of our times
The movie which traverses a different path that dares to tackle difficult and different themes of violence on womenfolk is told in a bold, stark, funny and unpredictable way and that’s what works in its favour. The superior technical support and some really good performances are two more reasons that make the movie a unusual experience.
‘City of God’ is presented in a non-linear narrative style, telling different but interlinked incidents in the lives of Tamil workers in the state and wars between real estate mafia and business groups, based at Kochy. The movie opens with a crash scene where a speeding Sumo, which is followed by a mini bus of quotation gang, hits a couple travelling on a motorbike and then into an electric post .The movie then rewinds on to the incidents that led to the crash scene. And we are introduced to a small time Tamil labourer, Swarnavel(Indrajith), who is in love with Marathakam, a Tamil woman who flees her village to escape from her ever disturbing married life and husband.
A wily business man and builder in the city, Sony Vadayattil, had a love bitten heart where in the past he had to throw out a girl from his life, due to persuasion from his parents.Now that girl has grown up to become the famous filmstar,Sooryaprabha(Reema Kallingal). Sony, with the aid of his best friend Jyothilal (Prithviraj), is out there to get the lady back into his life though she had been married for four years. And amidst their nefarious activities to accumulate wealth, Jyothilal, who is more like a bodyguard to his friend Sony, kills Poonoose, a wealthy businessman, while operating in a land deal.This leaves his wife Viji Punnose(Shwetha Menon) who witnesses the murder of her husband, go to any extent to take revenge..
City of god’ with plenty of characters is not the usual masala film with candyfloss or meaningless ha-ha-thons. It’s not one of those films that depict heroes bashing up villains and ladies getting into routine dance and drama. It’s straight out of life and certain moments do make you get into an introspective mood. With no spoon feeding here, the movie unleashes very slowly and the narratives go forth and back every half an hour, clearing the missing joining links in the parallel tracks. One has to be attentive, very dutiful to grip the goings-on and also the twists in the tale.
The film has several poignant moments, which is distributed equally in the plot. The scenes including introduction of Swarnavel, to the various murder attempts and verbal fights between Sony and jyothilal to the final crash scenes, all deserves mention for their meticulous execution. The conclusion to the story also doesn’t let you down one bit, with no attempts on preaching. Babu Janardhan’s dialogues have rustic flavor and are soaked in acid at times, so critical for a film of this genre. He has used the dialogues to the limit and the viewers are spared of the talk-heavy portions, avoiding dramatics.
The Cinematography by Sujith Vasudev is first-rate. The film with its hand held and static shots captures the authentic look to precision. The editing in the former half is very complex, but towards the later half appear flawless. The design of the background score is another area that deserves the kudos.The songs by Prashanth Pillai matches the mood of the movie though ‘Kaalangal’ is the pick to share the chart tops.Every song has a reason to be in the movie, two presented as coming up in the FM radio’s and one as the marriage celebration and another two in the backdrops.Different Dany had made some well choreographed action scenes while the art direction is also superb.
The performances are topnotch, with Indrajith again stealing the show effortlessly being in the shirts of Tamil worker.Reema Kallingal has a best role to cherish and is in top form, essaying the complex role with complete understanding. Prithvi, as usual, emotes through eyes on several occasions, which is the hallmark of an accomplished actor.Parvathy is life like and will be in the run for the year’s best accolades.Shwetha Menon, Sudheer Karamana,Rohini and Sreehari looks supremely confident, while the rest of the cast are appropriate.
All in all, this ‘City of God’ is a movie with feelings and appeal for the proponents of differently made experimental cinema. Director Lijo, Anil Mathew and their crew needs to be applauded for the efforts in keeping away cliches and commercial thrusts on the narrative structure, though they may find it a little difficult to cruise in the box-office( which is already ruled by such ‘Christian brothers’ and ‘China towns’). May be, our viewers may take a little more time to befriend such varied attempts.