“History is a set of lies agreed upon - Napoleon Bonaparte”. This appears on the screen as the closing credits of Kammara Sambhavam starts rolling. What you read in books or watch on screen about your real life heroes - Are they always true? Or were they twisted so that you would adore and admire the protagonist? This forms the crux of Murali Gopi’s script in Kammara Sambhavam.
It is an interesting concept as it quickly makes you re-think the impact some of the great biographical films had left on you. The intentions of Murali Gopi’s script are right but it falters as a whole, because the lengthy film (3 hours 2 minutes) becomes tiresome when you realise where it’s heading.
A set of producers (Vijayaraghavan, Sudheer Karamana, Baiju and Vinay Forrt) and director Pulikeshi (Bobby Simha) approach Kammaran Nambiar (Dileep), an old man and Indian Liberation Party member to make a movie on his life. What Kammaran tells Pulikeshi about his early life back in 1945 in a village named Amrutha Samudhram and how Pulikeshi makes it into a film forms the storyline of Kammara Sambhavam.
Murali Gopi ‘the writer’ is in fine form in the first half when he etches out the characters well. He succeeds in bringing out the contrast in the ideologies of his protagonists. Kammaran, a medical practitioner is an opportunist and wouldn't mind treading the path of treachery to accomplish what he wants. Othenan, (played by Siddharth) on the other hand, believes in the principle - “You don't need to live long, just make sure you don’t bow down your head as long as you breathe”.
It is a nice touch to connect various historic events like the Battle of Imphal, the deaths of Hitler and Subhash Chandra Bose and Japan’s fall in World War II to Kammaran and Othenan’s stories. The film's pre-interval sequence of around 20 minutes is its best portion as all the characters, who appeared so far are finely connected in the narrative with a twist and turn for everyone.
But Kammara Sambhavam’s big problem is the second half when the flashback ends and you are brought back to the present day. Murali Gopi tries to mock many films by poking fun at how the songs, stunts and punch scenes are picturised. Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar isn’t spared either with the film taking a dig at the lyrics of Ayirathil Oruvan. But it all falls flat because the script just stalls over here.
Rathish Ambat impresses in his debut as director when the script supports him in the first half, but equally fails when the writing lets him down in the second half. Captured in a few minutes, the Battle of Imphal is shot wonderfully. Cinematography (Sunil KS) and art direction immensely help Rathish to take the film to the pre-Independence era. Gopi Sundar's background score is effective only in parts.
Dileep appears in various avatars. He is stiff in the bearded, mass look in the second half, but gives a convincing performance as the meek but crooked Kammaran in first half. The actor is at his hilarious best in a scene when he learns about the Japanese defeat in World War II and realizes the Japanese money he had collected is of no value. Siddharth is a fine fit for Othenan’s role and it was good to see the actor lending his own voice for Malayalam lines too.
Murali Gopi as an actor doesn’t have much to do. A bunch of good actors like Siddique, Bobby Simha, Indrans and Vijayaraghavan are wasted because they have such minuscule screen space. But at least Siddique as Boss, Kammaran’s son, has some decent one-liners to lighten you up when the proceedings are mundane.
Namitha Pramod is adequate. Divya Prabha once again leaves a mark in a supporting role. It’s unfortunate that the talented Shwetha Menon is asked to overact when she could have done a lot more. Santhosh Keezhattoor keeps up with his track record of dying on-screen.
When you leave the cinema halls, you cannot help but wonder if this same movie would have worked a lot better if its first and second half were swapped. It seems like a big trick missed by Murali Gopi as it could have held the attention of viewers for longer. For now, in its current form, you need a lot of patience to sit through Kammara Sambhavam, even for a one-time watch. Let’s hope that Murali Gopi backs up his big ambitions with apt execution when he teams up next with director Prithviraj and actor Mohanlal for the big Lucifer.