Anandham was at one end of the spectrum portraying the chirpiness, confusion, and modern relationships of the young minds. Ganesh Raj with his sophomore film focuses on the extreme end of the same spectrum where an elderly couple nearing hundred years of age is his prime characters. But the tone remains the same for both films, it’s a ‘sit back and relax’ kind of attempt that Ganesh Raj successfully cracks without much intervention.
Pookkaalam is definitely a novel going by its central core and Ganesh Raj is sincere with what he aims at. In Aanandam the characters were mostly in their early 20s while here you could see four generations of people belonging to different age groups and Ganesh beautifully connects their relationship with the elderly couple. There’s an eccentricity spread across the narrative and at times it gets too loud. Pookkaalam quickly jumps into the conflict without wasting time but the narrative takes its time to settle and the first half is mostly events that sketch how the conflicts take a toll on the family. Ganesh Raj never forces us to feel emotions or pushes the film to be in a totally happy space. You could see the characters are flawed and are suffering because of their actions. The second half is the redemption arc where Ganesh the writer seems to be in full power, it’s then the film reaches it’s potential exploring the emotions in a more settled and moving form. The humor in the initial hour went totally flat and it was Vineeth Sreenivasan and Basil Joseph’s entry that made the laughs more lively.
Pookkaalam belongs to Vijayaraghavan and KPAC Leela who delivers a towering performance and steals the limelight. Ittoopp was safe with Vijayaraghavan whose shift into the character seems so meticulously done while KPAC Leela was more subtle with her emotions. Annu Antony though seemed off in the starting smartly shifted gear towards the end of the first half. Pookkaalam is gifted with an abundance of talents and Ganesh Raj churns the best out of all of them.
There’s warmth and a misty feel throughout the narrative and Anand. C. Chandran enhances the experience with soothing visuals. Loved the way the team used the color pallets and the frames felt like a breeze.
There are imperfections yet this is a film that works beyond all those minute detours. Ganesh Raj’s command over the soul-stirring climax episode shows how mature he has become since his debut. Despite the unnecessary eccentricity in the writing the emotions and affection of the characters felt real. Thanks to the immensely talented performers Pookkaalam’s heart and soul are in the right place.
Review by ©Rahul Babu