Puzhu: A Gripping Psychological Study

Superstars playing characters with negative shades isn’t very common. Even if that happens an attempt is made at the end to sanitize the character. Generally things take a turn towards the climax. However debutant director Ratneena’s Puzhu is a different beast altogether, there are no redeeming qualities thrust on Mamooty’s character, neither have you got any quick whitewash. For much of the film you experience a combination of fear mixed with revulsion, it is akin to what the son Kichu (Master Vasudev) feels towards Kuttan. Essentially Puzhu is a character study of an unsympathetic guy through the lens of social, political and cultural degradation.

Mamooty plays a police officer called Kuttan. He is a widower who stays in a posh apartment along with his son Kichu. Kuttan has an overbearing nature that suffocates his young son. The son at times wishes his father to be dead; Kuttan starts to feel that someone is trying to kill him. He starts developing paranoia. This paranoia is further accentuated by the arrival of his younger sister Bharati (Parvathy Thiruvothu) who comes to stay in a nearby flat along with her husband who is a theatre artist. The husband name is Kuttappan. Kuttan shares a problematic equation with Bharati. The reason being she had eloped with Kuttappan. Kuttappan comes from a lower caste. This is just the synopsis of Puzhu, can’t reveal anything more since there are many more layers to the story.

Puzhu has many complex layers starting with how the character of Mamooty has been written. Rateena doesn’t waste any time in establishing Kuttan. From early on we understand that Kuttan has deep hatred for those who belong to different communities and castes. You also understand that his parenting skills need a serious change over. It is not just unhealthy but it also borders on child abuse. His handling of the son is akin to the way he would handle a criminal.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/276aSWaJ7gM?feature=oembed However there are certain moments in the film which make you empathize with Kuttan. There are scenes in the film where he tries to connect with his son after Kichu openly rebels against his father. There are also a few occasions where Kuttan draws out laughs. For example there are scenes where he keeps visiting a suspect every time he escapes an attempt on his life. The lighter scenes are few and far in between but they momentarily relieve the otherwise tense ridden drama.

Mamooty is an absolute revelation in his part. The way he generates hatred just through the twitch of his eyes is simply remarkable. The senior actor once again shows why he is considered as one of the legends of Malayalam cinema along with Mohanlal. He captures the various nuances of Kuttan without missing a single beat. Mamooty does all this without going overboard even for one bit.

The characters of Bharati and Kuttappan are mostly side players but they have their share of moments too. Parvathy in particular shines as Kuttan’s warm and still hopeful sister.

Special mention must be made of Master Vasudev as well. He stands his own and manages to not get overshadowed, this in spite of sharing screen space with Mamooty and Parvathy.
The element of theatre also plays an important part here. A comparison is drawn between Kuttan’s situation and an epic play performed by his brother- in law. This angle adds more heft to the film.

Watch Puzhu for the subject matter and also the terrific Mamooty.

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