Anchakkallakokkan Movie Review: A visually appealing film with a major attention-deficit problem

Ullas Chemban
There was major potential here to do something great. Instead, we get yet another weak attempt at emulating the filmmaking school of Lijo Jose Pellissery.
Anchakkallakokkan Movie Review

Let's get the mystery about the confusing title out of the way first. Anjakkallakokkan means the Boogeyman, that oft-perpetuated imaginary monster used to scare little children to keep them in line. Now, here's the interesting thing the film does with this idea. Within the context of its story and its principal characters, it gives this idea a more practical definition: the Boogeyman residing within all of us. The film could've taken this idea and done many more interesting things, but the writing leaves a lot to be desired.

The setting is a fictional mountain village on the Kerala-Karnataka border in the late 80s, teeming with all kinds of dubious characters comprising politicians, landlords, thugs and policemen, except for maybe a few kind-hearted souls. But in a story like this, first impressions don't hold weight.

There was great potential here to focus on -- and flesh out -- one character, Vasudevan (played by Lukman), a police constable grappling with severe anxiety and confusion. He reminded me of Jayaram's character from Nanma Niranjavan Srinivasan, who shudders at the sight of blood or the thought of guarding a corpse. But just how nanma niranjavan Vasudevan is, is a mystery for the film to solve.

This is a film that, we later learn, suffers from a major attention deficit disorder. In trying to please attention-deficit viewers, it ends up doing just the opposite. Different sets of supporting characters show up, but the film isn't interested in exploring them enough. It feels like reading a random chapter from the middle of a book. Most of the film has this scattered quality in terms of the way it treats its characters and plot developments. People show up, do something, and say something, but none leave any impact.

It seems more interested in Chemban Vinod Jose's senior constable, a man who looks like an amiable monk dispensing sage advice, but he may have another side to him that others don't know about. We also meet a set of eccentric twins looking to avenge the death of their father. One of them is mute, while the other's speech is incomprehensible. It's these qualities, and the tendency of the former to do a Dancing Rose act while fighting, that makes them amusing and offers the occasional comical relief. The film holds our interest only when these two characters or Chemban Vinod Jose appear. The rest of the time, its pacing gets affected severely.

There's no denying the film's impressive scope and visual quality (shot by Armo). It maintains a predominant sepia tone and a colour grading pattern similar to the two-strip technicolour format -- something we also saw in Thiagarajan Kumararaja's Super Deluxe. Unfortunately, it gets too caught up in camera and editing gimmicks that seem to go on forever, especially in the fight sequences, that I began to lose interest in after a point.

There was a great opportunity here to do something like the popular Brazilian film City of God or a great Western like High Noon or 3:10 to Yuma. Instead, we get yet another film that squanders that potential by attempting to emulate the filmmaking school of Lijo Jose Pellissery. A classic case of style overtaking substance.

Verdict: okay

Galatta Rating: ( 2.75 /5.0 )

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