Thursday, March 28, 2013

Amen: a not-so-short review

i was asleep at 7.30pm when I roommate took my confirmation to watch the movie Amen, the show being at 9.45pm. I was hungry and tired, so I forcibly woke myself up at 8.15pm and went to find some food, which turned out to be not such an easy task owing to Holi.

Anyway I returned in half an hour, and then we had to rush as the theatre was 17kms away, and it would take a good half an hour in car to reach there. After lots of rushing and missing stuff, we had to return half way through and go in bikes. Not knowing the route and riding one bike alone, I checked up the route with another guy and managed to reach in time for the title song, in spite of the 50kmph constant speed.

It was at this point that I got to clearly know the name of the movie.

The title song itself was really colourful and full of interesting characters. Not like the usual special effects titles we see nowadays. This was more like a musical drama, with lots of animated characters moving across the screen, depicting the theme and the backdrop of the story itself.

The story is set in an island village, occupied by Christian families and the entire story surrounds these families, the Church, and the music band of this village(Gee Varghese Band). I don't fancy narrating the story in detail as part of the review, because it is quite boring to do so, and gives too many spoilers to people who just want to know whether the movie is good enough to spend their time and money.

So there is this band, which was quite famous and brought lots of laurels to the village. Even the village was known by the name of the band during those days But now, the band was past its glory days owing to a boat accident which killed many of its stalwarts. The son of one such clarinet player is Solomon(Fahad Fasil), the hero of the story. But he hasn't been able to bring out the skills in him into public view yet.

Then there is Sosanna(Swati Reddy) who looks absolutely charming and docile in her role. But looks can be deceiving and she displays the other sides of her character, and that too in quite unexpected fashions that make the audience gasp at the sheer audacity and creativity involved in depicting such scenes. Obviously, she is in love with our hero. Her role and expressions are quite hilarious in many scenes.

Then we have the band falling apart against stiff competition, church politics and local opposition. Everything is wagered against one final competition and then the usual stuff follows.

Another major character is father Vincent Vattoli(Indrajith). His role was really impressive and more colourful than any others, and quite comparable to Sosanna's. He dances, he preaches, he fights, he cracks jokes, and does some wonderful things. He drives the story actively, while all other characters play supporting roles for sometime. Then each character gets to drive the story for sometime. I was impressed by this round-robin fashion. There is no scope for hero worship here.

As with such stories there is the usual angry family, supportive family and local people involved in this story. They all serve no special purpose other than anchoring the story line to a very common one. In spite of that, these characters have been given lots of screen time and punch dialogues, making them more richer than usual supporting roles. It is like how real life usually is. How many of you can say that in your daily life there have been only a handful of characters involved deeply? Especially so with family stories set in rural backgrounds, where everything and anything is shared by a large number of people. I really relished that the supporting roles weren't too cliche.

That's not it, there are still more and more characters coming in , each holding out on there own with individual styles, performances and punch dialogues. The main priest with his villainous expressions, the kappiyar with his cunningness, Davis and Mariamma(with chatta-mundu-shades) from the other band who owns the arch-rival band, the toddy "chethukaaran" who delivers quite a lot of punch dialogues, Clara(Solomon's sister), the French girl Michelle who comes to Kerala to learn music and finds love instead,and so on.. Even Makarant Deshpande of "Yuh Hi Chala" fame pitches in with a very good character and performance.  Its a rain of punch dialogues, funny camera works, intelligent BGM and interesting roles. There is even a song sung for Michelle in broken Malayalam. I consider that to be the zenith of storytelling which departs from the traditional style where everyone gets their song sung by the best background singer, irrespective of how odd it sounds. After all each character has a life, a story and a song in their hearts, sung in their own imperfect ways.

Now that's what I found interesting. There is no better way to entertain and excite people other than deceiving their ability to guess each scene. Maybe the beginning and the end would still fall under the category of the easily guessable ones. But with all these rich characters putting in all this content, you would never be bored, unless of course you are preoccupied with trying to look beyond these. There were some forced jokes,but I felt it was acceptable, given the nature of characters and dialogues already going on in the movie. It is usually when characters move out of their roles and try to produce jokes, that they feel very artificial.


a) Awesome camera work. Though some might get mild headaches with the swaying and twisting shots. Quick movements and funny slow motions add a lot of punch into the scenes.
b) Good title song and climax music
c) Lots of awesome lighting effects
d) Characters are the highlight. Each one is fully developed and has their own effect on the story. Inclusion of  Swati Reddy,Makarant Deshpande and Natasha Sahgal(who is really a NatGeo writer..omg!!) helps to not limit the characters to just the usual cast.
e) Good selection of location and script
f) Hilarious punch dialogues
g) BGM was enchanting at times, fast paced and sometimes quite devotional and rhythmic

a) The attempt to make it a 'musical' comedy. It didn't work out well. The songs were mostly out of place, lengthy and not so inviting.
b) Some roles were not very well developed, and were meant for some jokes.That is actually not so bad either.
c) The devotional tones were over the edge at some points, though very limited.
d) The climax was questionable. There wasn't enough reason for such a twist!

Overall it is a very good "Divine Comedy", as the title claims. Watch it for some good humour, lots of wacky scenes and meaningful sarcasm against the authoritarian nature of religious bodies these days. I rate it 4.2/5.

1 comment:

  1. Hm.. Its true that there are lot of supporting characters. Some of them can even have a whole movie developed around them. Like the Makrand Deshpande character. Well written.