‘Valiya Perunnal’ Review: Shane Nigam is wonderful in this chaotic film

Director Dimal Dennis brings rawness into his Kochi story, but the unjustified length, too many characters and lack of clarity in script lessen the effect.
‘Valiya Perunnal’ Review: Shane Nigam is wonderful in this chaotic film
‘Valiya Perunnal’ Review: Shane Nigam is wonderful in this chaotic film
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Long films are fine when you don’t feel its lengthiness, when you don’t end up looking at the watch every few minutes wondering how much longer. Valiya Perunnal has originality, has that certain rawness that new-gen movies can be proud of, but it is dragged on far too long (188 minutes), and not enjoyably so.

The film also lacks clarity in a big, big way. With too many characters thrown in and too little conveyed, it appears the makers didn’t think too much about actually communicating with the audience.

Valiya Perunnal is significant, coming at a time when its lead actor, Shane Nigam, is facing a ban. Shane has been telling the media to judge for themselves if he hasn’t been working hard for his films. He was not kidding. Shane has come a long way and though playing a Kochi guy runs the risk of stereotyping him, the young actor delves comfortably into the character of Akkar. Brown and gold curls bouncing about him, Shane plays appreciably well the typical young ‘Kochi freak’ with his many friends, all of them living troubled lives in the rain-hit huts of Mattancherry and doing odd jobs. Akkar is into dancing and has a girlfriend called Pooja (Himika Bose) who is also a dancer.

The film begins with the story of Siva (Joju George), a taxi driver with many debts, who is attacked by hooded strangers while giving a ride to a Hindi-speaking family. It is Kochi you see after that and a dozen characters being introduced. It is all new faces, speaking the extreme Kochi dialect and before you make head or tail of one character, the camera (cinematographer Suresh Rajan) has already packed its gear and moved on to the next. You wonder if director Dimal Dennis, while making his debut, had promised to bring with him a bunch of aspiring actors. Not that any of them did a bad job. It is refreshing enough, but perhaps all too overwhelming.

You can just about make out that there are a bunch of veterans deciding things and another bunch of young men about to go wayward, and then their hapless families. The veterans had earlier gone the wrong way – namely, smuggling, fighting, illegal activities, etc – and had given it up, now protecting the few buildings the people of Mattancherry live in, preventing the rich from selling it off. We are told more than once how most of the houses in Kochi are vacant, because the owners possess more than one property.

The young ones are mostly involved in shady business deals or exploit foreign tourists to make a quick buck. The conversations are all abrupt, and you find yourself playing detective, latching on to clues to make out what is happening. As if it is not already hard on you, none of the lines in Hindi or what is presumably Konkani come with subtitles.

The only clear part is Akkar’s relationship with Pooja, both excellent dancers (the few good moments you don’t have to strain yourself to understand what’s going on) and sharing an easy camaraderie between them. Himika makes a wonderful debut.

But then just as you make some sense of the many lives just introduced to you, there come a few more new ones – rogue policemen, and then from somewhere Captain Raju (playing his last role before he passed away last year), and Atul Kulkarni pop up. And then someone must have thought since it is Kochi, it wouldn’t be right to leave out the Kochi veterans Vinayakan and Soubin Shahir, so they play two cool cameos too.

It will not be any sort of exaggeration to call it a hullaballoo. Cut the length of the film by an hour, two third of the characters, bring a lot more clarity to the script, and then the rawness that Dimal has neatly brought into his film will stand out. The Kochi story will then be better heard.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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