Cast: Santhosh Sivan, Karthika, Nithya Menon, Lakshmi Sharma. Jagathy Sreekumar, Saiju Kurup
Direction: Lenin Rajendran
Production: Green Cinema
Music: Ramesh Narayan
A Lenin Rajendran film needs no introduction. Associated with qualitative cinema over the years, the one thing that binds all of his films is the emphasis on content. In ‘Makaramanju’, he offers an interesting take on the life and a love- bitten struggles of the renowned painter Raja Ravi Varma.
The movie opens zooming into the surrounding of the Raja who even on his exile from homeland, had by then emerged as the best known commercial painter. He had a depressing story of the killing of his local model girl transforming him into a rebel, which happened mainly due to the false impressions of his desi relatives. Taking refuge at Mumbai, Raja Ravivarma is now scheduling his time to paint the pictures of Gods, that were much on demand and were adorned in the every households of the state. With the aid of Makhanji (Jagathy Sreekumar), his business partner, he manages to be the most sought after painter of the times.
The movie then moves on to his relations and tells how they inspired him to create some of his best known works. His wife Bhagirathy(lekshmy Sharma) who is back home, is craving for more attention from the Raja, even sensuously demanding him to make her his canvas and fill them with colour. The parallel narrative that the director engages, telling the epic story of Pururavas and Urvasi, together with the life of Raja in Mumbai who falls for Sugantha Bhai- his inspiration for drawing Urvashy, is the heart of the sequence of events. In the midst of his narration of the Urvashy story to the dancer turned model, Raja realises that he is deeply drawn close to Sugantha.
Director Lenin Rajendran has chosen to narrate a subject that is beyond the norms and dictates of regular commercial cinema. He is focused all throughout in his approach and never ever divert from the central theme. He also executes the various emotional scenes with aplomb and utmost sincerity. In fact, it’s difficult to single out any one sequence in particular since the movie has a consistency that’s visible from start to end. Yet, it must be noted that you can’t ignore the remarkably executed sequences featuring the master crafter and the village girl and the dream- like sequences where Urvashy is forced to bid adieu to Pururava after seeing him naked.
In the acting side, Santhosh Sivan looks extremely confident as both Ravi Verma and Pururava, and his atypical looks of the hero add an extra appeal to his portrayal. Karthika gets the characters that a debutante always dreams of and she manages to keep herself in control, though a few scenes go overboard. Nithya Menon comes as a whiff of fresh air and her brief role is thoroughly enjoyable. And so is Aniruddh, Shamna Kassim and Jagathy Sreekumar who are in notable roles.
‘Makaramanju’ is also a beautiful film as far as the visuals from Madhu Ambatt are concerned, with some great remarkably lightened up night scenes and frames. The film has a very colourful look, with the visuals being eye-catching all through. The other technical sides including the art direction and makeup are also in sync with the qualities of the content.
‘Makaramanju’ though is a fair product could have been even better with a more insightful script in the latter half. But from the box-office point of view, an offbeat theme, less publicity and lack of a hi-profile stars will spell doom. The film may find a niche audience in a select few metro stations, that’s about it. All in all, can’t really stretch out in this ‘mist of the Capricorn’…