The same man wrote the stories of both Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum and Sathyam Paranja Viswasikkuvo. That of course does not mean you expect a similar story or subject, it also doesn’t mean you get the same kind of kick from both. That’s where you see the difference that a director brings. G Prajith’s treatment of Sajeev Pazhoor’s new script has no parallels to be drawn to Dileesh Pothen’s Thondimuthalum from two years ago that won the writer a state award.
Sathyam Paranja Viswasikkuvo has a simple story, an incident in the lives of a few construction workers being at the centre of it. It is sweet that way, the small exchanges between a group of workers making a good part of the script before the said incident invites itself into their midst. It’s engaging too, the two hours and ten minutes going by too soon. It does not, however, leave behind the taste of a brilliant piece of work.
The tone of the film is set in the introduction of this group of masons who soon become a dear lot that the viewer sides with. Biju Menon plays Suni, an important member of the gang. And with him are his uncle, played by Alencier, a Gulf aspirant (Dinesh Prabhakar), a mostly-drunk Thamara, and a migrant worker Shanavas. The jokes come easy – a man who lives near their work site comes to complain that a worker sang the film song ‘Malare’ from Premam to his teenage daughter, and each worker is made to sing the song to identify who the unseen ‘poovalan’ was.
The conversations between Suni and friends, all of whom share a love for alcohol, are also enjoyable. At the end of a working day, behind a house where a wedding is on, even in the yard of a house where a death has occurred, they gather together and drink. It is not shown as a problem but a habit that these poor workers drown their financial sorrows in. That would have been fine if later it didn’t have a role to play. Only in a scene where Suni talks to a man (Sudheesh) about a loan, you hear it as a problem. “You get Rs 1,000 a day for your work, so for 25 days you’d get Rs 25,000. So it is not that you don’t earn enough, you just spend it all on drinks,” Sudheesh tells him.
At home too, Suni hears it from his wife Geetha (Samvrutha, making a comeback after seven years), while their little daughter sleeps. Geetha’s character is disappointingly stereotypical – the sari-clad wife who cooks and cleans and complains. Also the woman who eloped against her family’s wishes with the man who came to work on their house, making the sacrifice of leaving the ‘good life’ and then suffering with an irresponsible husband. Suni’s time with his family does not really say much about him. He comes home late with an embarrassed smile and song, gets nagged, goes to sleep and then to work. You get that he takes life easy, he is struggling to make ends meet, is too proud to ask his wife’s family for financial help. But beyond that, you don’t get an impression he cares much. The film doesn’t convey any great bond between husband and wife, and when Geetha’s brothers once come to take her back home, you wonder why she shouldn’t go.
More than the family, it is Suni’s relationship with his co-workers that you see. You see how dangerous their lives can be when one of them falls, has a head injury and is rushed to the hospital. But it is not shown as a tragic incident, just as another day in their life and what they go through.
What is also given attention is the depiction of life and happenings around them – characters in the neighbourhood. The old tea-shop man who wants to settle scores with Suni, the sex worker Jessie who is bold and sharp, and the politicians trying to take advantage of the little mishaps. It is also nice that they don’t stereotype the migrant labourer as films often do, and he is seen as one among the gang; even his mother-in-law is shown as extra caring, announcing that she sees him as a son.
While the character development and placing of the incident that changes everything for the workers are both appreciable, there is a certain lack of attention to the treatment that makes the script less effective. You don’t feel for the characters at moments you are meant to, even with the help of music (Viswajith). Only in the climax, there is a scene with very few lines spoken that reminds you what lovely performers Biju Menon and Samvrutha are.