Puzhu Review: Watch it for Mammootty’s acting masterclass
From the time of its announcement, ‘Puzhu’ has garnered attention for a lot of reasons. Mammootty introducing yet another director, him teaming up with Parvathy or the fact that he is playing a full-fledged negative character, all of this ensured that the expectations were sky-high.
Ratheena’s directorial debut is a slow-paced film in the psychological thriller space that explores some very important and relevant themes. Mammootty plays an upper-class widower who lives with his son in a posh apartment where only people from his community live. He is a former IPS officer who lives in constant fear of someone trying to kill him. There’s always something or the other worrying him. He can’t stand the sight of his sister who married a Dalit person out of her choice. He treats everyone with a sense of entitlement and he’s unempathetic even to do a dog.
Interestingly, all through the film he is called Kuttan by his near ones but there’s no mention of his real name. A control freak with OCD, he is the embodiment of a toxic parent as he draws boundaries on everything that his son should do. Naturally, his son despises him. The kid is in his happy space only when the father is away. The film takes a lot of time to establish these things but it’s engaging. The screenplay by Harshad, Suhas and Sharfu move at a worm’s pace but it keeps the viewer intrigued.
‘Puzhu’ is a character-driven film that attempts to expose the caste-based discrimination in the society. But the problem is most of these scenes are verbal and loud. There’s a stage play popping up at frequent intervals to convey the same but even without it, things are conveyed effectively. Where the film falters the most is its crucial final few minutes. The desperate attempt to squeezs in Islamophobia into a narrative that deals with something else for the majority of its runtime backfires. It appears forced and leaves a bad aftertaste.
It is Mammootty who shoulders ‘Puzhu’ single-handedly with an extraordinary performance. The veteran is terrific with his controlled and restrained act that doesn’t give away anything about his nature easily. His characteristics are peeled off only gradually. The character has a justification for everything he does and Mammootty convinces with his stellar performance. Surprisingly, Parvathy doesn’t have much to do in the film. She hardly gets screentime but her presence is important to the film. Some of her choices stay true to what the actress has been preaching off-screen and kudos to that.
To put it simply, ‘Puzhu’ is a film that does have its share of flaws. It loses focus in its attempts to address too many issues. But still, it is worth a watch for mainstream films like these are rare to come by in Malayalam. If not for anything else, watch it for Mammootty’s stunning performance alone.