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Paradesi – Review

Posted by Admin On October - 19 - 2007

Hats off to the master actor – Mohanlal, for a brilliant lifelike portrayal of Valiyakkathu Moosa, the protagonist of director P.T Kunhimohammed’s Pardesi, a moving story of a man’s quest for his identity and craving to live in his own country. Kunhimohammed focuses on the plight of hundreds of Malayali Muslims in Malappuram district of Kerala who were forced to live as fugitives in their own homeland as circumstances had made many of them citizens of Pakistan. . His ‘Paradesi’ unravels the life of those Malayalis who left Kerala to seek their fortunes in Karachi before Independence, and came back after partition to find that they are foreigners in their own land and is repeatedly deported!

The director tries to explore the feelings of a man who is a “foreigner” in his own backyard with the necessary dramatic tensions and an underlining of the humane moments. The story of `Pardesi’ unfolds though the life of 80-year-old Valiyakathu Moosa(Mohanlal) during three stages of his life; at 35, 60 and 80. Moosa’s quest for a job had taken him to Karachi, then a part of undivided India. As he chose to stay in Pakistan during the Partition, he is viewed with suspicion when he attempts to returns to his village near Manjeri in Kerala. When India and Pakistan were born, many of them continued to work in Pakistan but their families remained in Kerala. Little did they imagine that overnight India and Pakistan would become nations at war with each other. The war made those who had accepted Pakistani citizenship, foreigners in their own land.

Valiyakkathu Moosa was one of those who is forced to hide in his own house as the brutal and corrupt local police (Cochin Haneefa, Bava) in Manjeri headed by the SP (Ramu) are always on the look out for him once his visa expires, they deport him back to Pakistan! There are others like him- Abdul Rahman (Jagathy), Usman (T.G Ravi), Mustafa (Siddique) and Moosa’s first love Khadeeja (Lakshmi Gopalasamy), who are denied Indian Citizenship and harassed as “spies and traitors” for no fault of theirs. Moosa’s wife Ameena (Shwetha Menon) is his mediator and the only person who understands him as even his two sons find him an embarrassment. Usha (Padmapriya), a fiercely independent freelance journalist and crusader stumbles on Moosa’s story and becomes his savior as she starts to gather information about these poor fugitives. On the sidelines the diplomatic chess game played by India and Pakistan has its reverberations on people like Moosa who at 85 is finally pushed out of India at Munaba, the desert border between both the countries in Rajasthan.

The entire film revolves around Valiyakkathu Moosa, and Mohanlal lives the role. He is excellent as he plays the three stages of Moosa’s character each with a different look and body language. Upright and unbreakable, he presides over the film like a torch whose burning is invisible to everyone except the viewer. It is a performance that is likely to get him a National Award. In the climax, watch the scene where the 85-year old Moosa loses his inner strength and panics seeing the police jeeps and tries to hide in his own house and the final shot of him trudging all alone in the desert and slowly disappearing in the distance is truly heart rendering. Mohanlal is mesmerising and reinvents the idiom of acting once more with feeling.

Watch out for Mohanlal’s favourite item girl Shwetha Menon emerging as an actress of substance with a spirited performance as Ameena! From wearing minimal clothes on screen in bimbo roles, here she is terrific- dressed in thatta, mundu with long -sleeved blouse and walking with a Koonu( a stoop). Padmapriya as the fiery journalist is superb and proves that she is the actress of her generation. The others in the film are all realistic like Lakshmi Gopalasamy, Jagathy, Siddique, T.G Ravi, Haneefa etc. The music of the film by Ramesh Narayanan and Shahbaz Aman is another highlight, with its mixture of Hindusthani and Oppana. Thattum Pidichu… sung by Sujatha is a beautiful melody, with typical Malabar flavour that one associated with past masters like Baburaj. And M.G Sreekumar, Vineeth Sreenivasan songYara Dhuni Dhuni…. a picturisation of a Muslim marriages of the sixties in Malabar rocks!

Pattanam Rasheed’s make-up of Mohanlal and other actors in this period drama is fantastic, along with Girish Menon’s art bringing out the Eranadu of 1930’s. On the downside, the film needs to be crisper. Pardesi is a compelling film that deals with the universal theme of displacement and fight for identity in a very moving manner.

2 Responses to “Paradesi – Review”

  1. belsy says:

    i’m a great fan of laettan . so in that if i say the most gud abt this film it wud just a way 2 promote the film it can be done .
    this nust b seen . a different performance al2gether frm our dearest lalettan.
    i hope this film wud hit the best way at the theatres and at all leading film festivals.
    all the very best 2 lalettan !!!!!
    eagerly waiting 4 him 2 receive another state award as well national awards.. i was really sad when he missed his national award for the film Thanmathra..

    al prayers and regs 2 lalettan ..

  2. Nice reading you have on Paradesi – Review. Your write ups is primarily why I consistiently visit your blog. Peace until next time!

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