Aadujeevitham (The Goat Life): A heart wrenching survival drama led by an award winning performance from Prithviraj Sukumaran

An overindulgent second half does test the viewer’s patience but still there is a lot to savour
  • Aadujeevitam
  • Rating 3.5 out of 5
  • Starcast: Prithviraj Sukumran, KR Gokul, Amala Paul, Talib Al Balushi and others
  • Direction and Screenplay: Blessy
  • Based on: Book Aadujeevitam by Benyamin
  • Producers: Blessey, Jimmy Jean Louis and Steve Adams
  • Production Companies: Visual Romance, Jet Media Production and Alta Global Media
  • Music: AR Rahman
  • Genre: Survival drama
  • Running time: 2 hours and 52 minutes

Not so educated men going to gulf countries and working as labourers is a wide spread phenomenon. Their lack of education makes these men easy target and they often end up being slaves. Director Blessy has taken one such story from the novel Goat Days written by Benyamin. Survival dramas when done well make for gripping cinema and Aadujeevitham (The Goat Life) is a good example of that. It makes you feel strongly for the protagonist Najeeb and want him to come out safe.

Najeeb (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a man living happily with his wife Sainu (a charming Amala Paul) when the movie starts. He is from Kerala. In order to earn more money and give a better life to his family Najeeb decides to go to the gulf with his friend Hakim (K R Gokul). Upon reaching Saudi Arabia they find themselves in a clueless situation without knowing who their boss is.

Suddenly a local Arab approaches them. Najeeb and Hakim think that this Arab is their boss. Najeeb’s dreams of a better future come crashing down when he is dropped off in the middle of a desert to look after goats and camels.  Najeeb knows only Malayalam but that is of no use to him there. He struggles to communicate with the owner of that place known as Kafeel.

He eventually becomes a goat herder with days turning into weeks, months and even years. Hope comes in the form of another immigrant an African by name Ibraham Khadiri (Jimmy Jean Lousis). Ibraham Khadiri promises to help Najeeb and Hakim to escape. The rest of the story is about the various hardships that they face and how Najeeb finally manages to get out of the desert and is able to reconnect with his family.

At audio launch with AR Rehman

A strong aspect of Aadujeevitham is how Blessy has presented the life of Najeeb in detail without any hurry. The flashback portions of Najeeb’s happy life in Kerala and his present situation has been well juxtaposed. Najeeb’s scenes with his wife give much needed relief in an otherwise heavy drama, the transformation of Najeeb from a healthy man swimming with abandon in the Kerala backwaters to someone who becomes very thin and unkempt gives Goosebumps to the viewers. A scene which deserves a particular mention here is the one when Najeeb checks himself in the mirror of a van after a long time and is astonished on how much his body has changed.

Najeeb’s struggles in rearing the goats and how he develops a bond with them later has also been well depicted, there is a wonderful scene in the post interval portion where Najeeb breaks down while bidding goodbye to the goats and the camels. It is a heart touching scene.

Sunil K’s cinematography is another big highlight of Aadujeevitham. He does a splendid job in capturing both the beautiful back waters of Kerala and also the vast desert where Najeeb and Co undergo many hardships. His cinematography particularly stands out in the scenes of sand storm.

A.R Rahman’s songs and the background score also add much to the film. The BGM is a mixture of Arabic, Indian, Islamic etc. The songs come at the right juncture whether it is the romantic one with Amala Paul or the most intense theme song.

What pulls down Aadujeevitham though are the dragged post interval portions. The various hardships that Najeeb faces in going back home needed more trimming. While it is understandable that Blessy wants the viewers to empathise with the plight of Najeeb but a certain boredom creeps in making the audiences impatient. The character of Ibrahim is a little vague. We don’t understand why he is not tired, not thirsty like the other two.

Prithviraj, a superlative performance, with Amala Paul

A lot has been already said about Prithviraj Sukumaran’s performance and how he has gotten into the skin of the character. It is definitely a life changing performance for the actor. His physical transformation into a thin and unkempt man is on par with the best of international actors like Tom Hanks.

K R Gokul is another actor who stands out with his heart touching portrayal. Talib as Kafeel is successful in making the audiences hate him. Amala Paul does not have any heavy lifting but still she made her presence amply felt.

King Of Kotha: Dulquer Salmaan Comes Out All Guns Blazing In This Lengthy But Gritty Gangster Drama

Gangster films are one of the most overused genres in films across the world, whether it is Francis Coppola’s Godfather, Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan, Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya and Company among others. Debut director Abhilash Joshiy takes the familiar concept of two friends turning against each other and gives it a retro touch. At 2 hours and 55 minutes King of Kotha does test the viewers’ patience.  But what powers King of Kotha are the performances led by Dulquer Salmaan and Shabeer Kallarakkal. The film is also technically brilliant particularly the cinematography and the art direction.

King of Kotha is set in a fictional town by the same name. The time period is 1980’s. Raju (Dulquer Salmaan) and Kannan (Shabeer Kallarakaal) are buddies/gangsters. They have a strong brotherly bond. What makes them different from other gangsters is that they wouldn’t deal with drugs. Tara (Aishwarya Lakshmi) is the love interest of Raju. Things take a drastic turn when the brotherly bond with Kannan breaks. Due to certain reasons Raju goes into exile and Kotha is no longer the same. Prasanna Kumar plays the police officer Shahul Hassan. Paradoxically he brings Raju back to set things right in the current time.

The strongest pillar of King of Kotha is easily the dynamics between Raju and Kannan. Abhilash Joshiy does a good job in exploring the friendship between these characters and also how things go sour between them. He manages to give some nice touches to this predictable angle. For example there is a scene in the second half when Raju and Kannan reminisce about their past days in a hotel room. In a particular moment Raju talks about his plans to set up a farm and grow apples in the future. This leads to a chuckle from Kannan.

Another angle worth mentioning here is the father and son relationship between Raju and Kotha Ravi (Shammi Thilakan). They share some good emotional moments.

Director succeeds in presenting Dulquer as a mass hero. Dulquer is presented as a feared gangster in both the past and the present but at the same time he is successful in humanizing Raju. There are occasions where Raju comes across as defeated both mentally and physically.  Dulquer Salmaan once again shows his versatility with a knockout performance.

The action sequences are raw in nature with doses of bloodshed. These sequences are not for all but still there is some thrill in seeing Dulquer delivering those punches. The background score by Jakes Bejoy is an absolute delight particularly in the scenes elevating Dulquer.

The cinematography of Nimish Ravi is another big plus for King of Kotha. He is successful in capturing the raw terrain through his lens.

Apart from Dulquer the other actor who makes a solid impression is Shabeer Kallarakal. The actor makes for a formidable opponent. In fact Dulquer shares more chemistry with Shabeer than his leading lady.

One big problem with King of Kotha is the very stretchy run time. There are passages which could have been easily chopped off. The predictable nature of things also plays a spoilsport. Some of the subplots could have been crisper.

Overall Dulquer’s performance coupled with the Visuals make this Kotha worth a visit.