By Mahima Nandakumar
Alert: The following is not a review but a closer look at the movie, their might be some spoilers.
Cinema is the only artistic invention that can give a meaningful narration to even the most abstract idea with visuals, sound, time and technology with each coming day. But how many filmmakers have made complete use of the medium? In the 100+ years of it’s existence, barely a hundred would truly have done that. And that’s where we come across a filmmaker of this generation who is having fun with his exemplary skills; Lijo Jose Pellissery simply doesn’t make films, he creates motion pictures that are crazy, chaotic, deep and for the lack of a better word, GREAT. This passionate artist’s latest venture is not only a milestone in his career but it is an example of best cinema itself.
The songs of praise of Jallikattu would have already reached your ears. The film, with it’s brilliant craft and internationally appealing content has earned wonderful feedback from global audiences. The film hit theaters in Kerala yesterday. But instead of just saying that the making and it’s elements are great, let’s see what makes it an important film and how does it justify the purpose of the medium.
The narrative is built on an uncomplicated basement but like a classical music piece, it keeps hitting higher notes to finally reach the summit playing the highest note. Throughout it’s one and a half hour run time, the film cuts back and forth into communal and individual perspectives. With a loose buffalo in the center, you can see the man who got the buffalo lose, the people who faced damage by the animal and many more characters who are in the search party just for the kick of it. The theme here is not man v/s animal, it is man as an animal (and sometimes worse).
Once you watch this movie, at least for a split second you will think if civilization is actually a joke! And the two-legged beings running behind the four-legged one are all men, from a point it is about masculinity and how these frivolous male egos come before the actual solution to the problem at hand, even causing danger to human lives. Where Jallikattu excels is in the way it plays with the audiences’ minds, be it in the common goal or the characters, your loyalty keeps shifting. Primarily, all characters are so human that all are different when you look in the beginning and try so hard to figure out who you must empathize with, then towards the end to realize that by the end of the day all men are the same.
This is a movie that the filmmaker gets to have the final laugh. He keeps you engaged throughout the movie with help of his entire crew of extraordinary craftsmen to only bring it to a point and make the big narrative revelation; to show you that the whole point of the film was to make you see this particular aspect and not give a conclusion you expected. And this is something only cinema can achieve, to capture all the senses bring attention to what the creator has to say. Jallikattu becomes one of the best examples of cinema because it uses cinematography, lighting, editing, music, acting and of course storytelling in such a way that only this medium can do. Probably two of my favorite instances are when when a character attacks another guy when the animal is right in front of him to capture and when in the end it cuts back to the Paleolithic era and shows us that nothing has really changed; these are visual storytelling. Why is man the most dangerous species and how hasn’t his mentality changed much in a million years is something this film successfully conveys. And in that process, Lijo Jose Pellissery makes his audience sit wide-eyed and jaw-dropped witnessing the wonder of motion pictures.
To truly understand art is to first learn it’s limits and then find the endless possibilities within. Cinema too, has it’s limits but is limitless at the same time. A filmmaker could make a movie tomorrow that might make us look at the medium in a completely different way but then there are people like Pellissery who comes incredibly close to making one believe that this is how a person should make a movie, but then he himself will re-appear in a year or two to give you new beliefs. Yet, there is no shame in giving into his creative craziness because not everyday a filmmaker gives you something as original as Jallikattu.
Until next time, bye.