Director Joshiy makes it a very enjoyable movie to watch, but the second half does not keep up with the neatly built-up first half.

Porinju Mariam Jose review Joju Chemban and Nyla star in lovely drama set in 80s
Flix Mollywood Friday, August 23, 2019 - 17:22
Worth a watch

Director Joshiy was once known for ‘killing off’ at least one of his lead characters towards the end of his movies. Porinju Mariam Jose, his newest, however, has a story based on some real life characters connected with the highly celebrated Thrissur perunnal (church festival). So, their life and death are not Joshiy’s doing, it’s happened in real. And the fiction around it has been neatly put on paper by scriptwriter Abhilash N Chandran, who was embroiled in a controversy two days ago with another writer – Lizzy Joy -- alleging that it was a copy of her script.

Setting aside the controversy, the script is written in a comfortable order, with obvious attention to detailing. The story begins in 1965 Thrissur, where we are given the background of the three title characters: Porinju (Joju George), Mariam (Nyla Usha) and Jose (Chemban Vinod). Three thick friends, they have grown up into 30-something adults in 1985, amid the perunnal festivities and fun, but with a sense of loss among them. Porinju and Mariam have long been in love with each other but couldn’t be together because Mariam’s dad had killed himself by hanging from a tree (although accidentally) when she was ready to start her life with Porinju. Jose has been a sad witness to all this. 

Joshiy includes a bunch of kids to dig out these histories from the various characters in town, speaking the adorable Thrissur dialect. Last perunnal, there was some trouble, they learn. Jose, who liked to do his ‘I am a disco dancer’ routine during festivals, broke tradition by dancing in front of Ipe sir’s (Vijayaraghavan) house. Practice was that when the rich Ipe family came out of their house to greet the festival gathering, no one danced. Drunk Jose forgets this and gets pushed by Prince (Rahul Madhav), Ipe’s grandson. Another back story tells you that the problem between Prince and Jose began when the latter grabbed ‘our Porinju’s pennu’, Mariam. And a third back story speaks of the bond shared by Ipe and Porinju – at times putting him in conflict between the rich man he protects and the friends he loves.

Some of it is predictable, like how Porinju is the one strong man whom 10 men together cannot defeat, the 1980s type of a hero. But it is still enjoyable, the way his character is written, and the way Joju enacts it. Porinju’s and Mariam’s love is sweet, the way he walks around her house every night to catch a glimpse of her before the night’s over, the way she knows it and walks out just then on the pretext of locking her gate. 

Mariam is the bold rich woman in the traditional Kerala Christian clothes, the moneylender everyone is scared of. And Nyla Usha plays the role well, though reminding you again of a 1980s bold heroine. The movie may be set in those years, but that doesn’t mean it should have been made like a 1980s film. Even when everything is in order – beautifully edited – and the props from the newspaper to the television set and the music are carefully chosen from those times, you can feel a certain artificiality to it all. But this is minute and it disappears every time Chemban Vinod is on the screen. He is just adorable as the mostly-drunk dance-loving film-watching, absolutely loving friend of Porinju and Mariam and the family man who makes everyone laugh.

The neatly built story, however, loses the effect in the second half of the film. A problem of too much happening all at once and not having it under control. While the flow itself is not affected, the film squanders the emotion it had built up until then. Not that Joshiy has lost his touch. You walk out, satisfied, and still thinking of the characters, the music they brought with them, and of Jose, dear dancing Jose.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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