Movie Review: Ananthabhadram

The 2005 Malayalam film "Ananthabhadram" concerns ghosts, black magic and spirits. The film begins with little Ananthan hearing a folk tale from his mother Gayathri (Revathy) telling him that his family comes from a line of powerful magicians and that they are responsible for protecting a "nagamanickyam", a jewel on a serpent's head. The jewel, she narrates in the ancient village of Sivapuram in a house guarded by snakes, including a tiny snake called Kunjootan. 

Years later, Ananthan (Prithviraj) returns to Sivapuram with his deceased mother's ashes. His mother wanted him to light the lamp at Shivakaavu, a dark and mysterious temple of Lord Shiva. During his stay in Sivapuram, he meets his cousin Bhadra (Kavya Madhavan) and encounters the local black magician Digambaran (Manoj K. Jayan). Soon enough, we are shown that Digambaran is not a friendly character as he opposes the lighting of lamps on the grounds of local superstitions in order to get his hands on the nagamanickyam. Digambaran has serious issues with Madambi "tharavadu" (family) which spans generations as he is in pursuit of the nagamanickyam and is resolute in his quest. 

Digambaran has an enemy in Chemban (Kalabhavan Mani), a blind martial arts expert who stands in the way of Digambaran's hunt for the nagamanickyam. The evil Digambaran manages to remove Chemban from his way by blinding him and leaves a trail of blood. Digambaran also lures Chemban's sister Bhama (Riya Sen) into black magic. He repeatedly boasts about the fact that he has the power to perform the parakayapravesam (the process of transferring one's soul into another body) to attain the nagamanickyam using Bhama. 

The highlight performance in this film is by Manoj K. Jayan as the evil black magician Digambaran. No one could have essayed the role with dignity and panache the way he has done. Kalabhavan Mani also has done a wonderful job. Prithviraj irritates a bit with his English dialogues but acting wise, he is efficient. Kavya Madhavan looks beautiful but needs to slim down a bit. Riya Sen appears to be the most confused actress in the movie as there is no clarity on what the role demanded from her. As far as casting goes, the film sticks to the formula of a regular Malayalam film.

Visually, the film is a treat as it draws heavily from the local myths and tales. Certain aspects of dance used by the choreographer Aparna Sindoor draw inspiration from the Theyyam and Kathakali dancers of Kerala making it evident that we have a rich visual culture. The film also uses Kalarippayattu, the traditional martial arts of South India, for the fight sequences between Digambaran and Chemban choreographed by action director Arash. The director also pays a tribute to legendary painter Raja Ravi Varma by using three of his paintings as an inspiration to film the song.

The sound recording of the film is very good but the screenplays tends to progress in a hurried manner as though there is an urgent need to finish the story somehow. As the pace increases towards the second half, it becomes a bit difficult to follow the story. Nevertheless, it is a sincere effort by cinematographer Santhosh Sivan. Watch the film for its high production values and its folk tale which seeks inspiration from the rich visual culture.


TebyTom said…
Prithviraj's english dialogues combine well with the film's story.
Kavya doesn't need to slim down-a typically plump village girl.
The screenplay's progressive pace works well with the thriller storyline and puts audience on the edge.

This is not a well thought out review.

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