Director: Sanu John Varughese
Writers: Sanu John Varughese, Rajesh Ravi, Arun Janardan
Edited by: Mahesh Narayan
Cinematography: G Sreenivas Reddy
Cast: Biju Menon, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Sharafudheen
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

Human beings are essentially unknowable. That is the thesis of Sanu John Varughese’s terrific first movie Aarkkariyam. The title means ‘who knows’. By the top of the movie, we all know rather a lot, however that solely hints at way more, which we’ll by no means discover out. The characters on this movie are strange folks, caught up, like the remainder of us, within the upheaval of COVID-19. But they’re additionally deeply mysterious, hiding secrets and techniques that embrace homicide.

Aarkkariyam begins in Mumbai. Shirley and Roy are packing up to return to her dwelling in Kerala. It’s the early days of the pandemic. Roy’s enterprise is floundering – he has borrowed cash however a key consignment is caught on the docks. Meanwhile Shirley’s younger daughter Sophie is caught at her convent college. Shirley and Roy handle to make it again to Kerala however they aren’t in a position to drive to Sophie. The nation goes into lockdown. It’s a precarious time with folks carrying masks in public and trying some type of social distancing.

The first half hour or so is intentionally measured – the top-notch modifying is by Mahesh Narayan, who labored comparable magic in Nayattu. The script by Sanu, Rajesh Ravi and Arun Janardan, doles out particulars sparingly. Shirley’s father Ittyavira is a cantankerous retired college trainer who tried his hand at pig farming however failed and now, like Roy, is in debt. For each Shirley and Roy, it is a second marriage. Shirley’s mom died when she was solely eight and her father single-handedly raised her. But wherever you assume this narrative would possibly go, it doesn’t. And when the twist arrives, it’s so sudden that identical to the character it’s revealed to, you might be additionally shocked into silence.

The magnificence is that each one of this performs out amidst the humdrum rhythms of each day life. There is not any drama or excessive emotion. Sanu locations his characters in essentially the most routine conditions: they’re making ready meals (each Roy and Ittyavira spend a whole lot of time within the kitchen) or watching tv, brushing their enamel or just singing a favorite music – Ittyavira is keen on ‘Yeh raatein, yeh mausam’ from the 1958 movie Dilli ka Thug. Like in Joji, the opposite Malayalam movie wherein the pandemic is a palpable presence, right here too a lot of the motion takes place in a sprawling home with lush inexperienced environment and a pond. The burden of secrets and techniques makes the lockdown much more claustrophobic.

The different palpable presence is God. Ittyavira believes that no matter occurs is divine will and that we are able to solely perceive the previous as soon as we arrive on the future. Roy thinks Shirley can sleep soundly as a result of she has religion. Sophie lives with nuns whereas her mother and father work out a option to get to her. But Sanu is just too subtle a storyteller to inform us what to consider. He is extra within the workings of minds and hearts. Which finally, after all, can’t be identified. Characters make unfathomable selections. Like chameleons, they’re additionally changeable – every individual has his or her fact about another person. The similar individual is described as a ‘rowdy’ and a saviour. But the script doesn’t enable us to make simplistic judgments about them. People, Sanu appears to say, are as impenetrable because the sphinx.

Aarkkariyam rides on the shoulders of its three glorious actors – Biju Menon as Ittyavira, Parvathy Thiruvothu as Shirley and Sharafudheen as Roy. None of them have large, actorly moments right here. They are merely being. But watch how they alter imperceptibly by way of the course of the movie. Especially Sharafudheen, who goes from an unassuming, good man to somebody extra burdened and complicated.

Watch additionally how Sanu builds an environment of dread in order that strange areas in the home turn into ominous. And how he makes use of Sanjay Divecha’s background rating, dominated by an acoustic guitar, to layer the story. Sanu is a celebrated cinematographer who has shot movies comparable to Badhaai HoLootcase and the blockbuster Jersey, that includes Nani. As a director his style is extra minimalist. He builds little moments that stick with you – I saved interested by the blood on the kitchen flooring and what it should have taken to wash it.

You can watch Aarkkariyam on Amazon Prime Video.

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