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NANPAKAL NERATHU MAYAKKAM : Ranjan recommends this Lijo, Mammootty film for the week

James, the belligerent leader of a Malayalee group wakes up from his afternoon slumber inside the bus that they have hired to take them back to their Kerala village after a pilgrimage in Tamil Nadu, walks into a Tamil village across the highway, and seamlessly transforms into one of its residents – much to the chagrin of his family and co-passengers. Lijo Jose Pellissery works up a most intriguing premise and packs in layers of meanings and subtexts without being overwhelming. Amongst its highlights are static, wide-angle long shots in which every part of the frame is filled with vivid details – it’s a masterclass in blocking; a complex soundtrack that evokes a bygone era through radio and television, and the casting and performance of all the characters. Mammootty who plays the lead blends in with the mise-en-scene without being obtrusive. Is it a dream, or is it some sort of psychological situation, or paranormal experience? There aren’t any easy answers, but one thing is for sure: it is a masterwork.

It wouldn’t be a hyperbole to say that Lijo Jose Pellissery’s NANPAKAL NERATHU MAYAKKAM (Like an Afternoon Dream, 2022, Malayalam) is a cinematic experience that can easily lay claim to the highest canons of world cinema. Look it up on NETFLIX.

Ranjan Das is a Mumbai based filmmaker & faculty.

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