The great Mohanlal in a scene from "Kireedam".

The great Mohanlal in a scene from “Kireedam”.

“What God writes on your forehead you will become” states the holy Quran in regards to the destiny of man and no Indian movie reflects this profound statement better than the 1989 Malayalam movie classic “Kireedam” meaning “The Crown” in English and directed by Sibi  Malayil. What makes this movie really special is the fact that it deals with a father and son relationship very sensitively and realistically without the clichés normally used and seen in Indian cinema especially Hindi cinema.

This movie was made during a time which was considered to be the “Golden Period” in Malayalam cinema and this is clearly reflected in the plot of this movie which is very true to life. So the story begins with protagonist Sethumadhavan (Mohanlal)  who his happily living with his mother, younger sister, brother and his loving father Achuthan Nair (Thilakan) who works as a senior constable in the police department. The only ambition in Achuthan’s life is that his son becomes a police inspector before he retires from the force. The protagonist Sethu is also engaged to Devi(Parvathi) who happens to be the daughter of his maternal uncle. It is at this point in the movie that Achuthan is transferred to a notorious town called Ramapuram because he tried to lawfully enforce a parking fine on an MLA’s son. As a result of this incident the entire family is forced to shift to Ramapuram including Sethu where is father has been transferred. Everything is perfect for Nair family until one day when an on duty Achuthan is seen by Sethu getting beaten up by a notorious goon called Keerikadan Jose(Mohan Raj) in the market area. Unable to see his father being beaten he enters the brawl and eventually ends up almost killing Jose who is admitted to hospital. Unfortunately for Sethu the entire market celebrates the end of a terror and a rise of a savior which deeply upsets his father. With Sethu’s growing reputation of a goon rising he is slowly forced into several unnecessary situations which eventually forces him to become a criminal. To make matters worse his father whom he loves the most gives up on him and he also loses the love of his life Devi who ends up marrying someone else on his advice as he feels she does not deserve him. The rest of the movie deals with how this sensitive relationship between father and son keeps deteriorating until a heartbreaking climax.

The basic strength of this wonderful movie lies in the fact that the story and screenplay by Lolithadas a great director and writer is so real which is very rare in Indian cinema. What is also special about the story is the fact that the writer has quite brilliantly shown us the hypocrisy that exist in Indian society of judging other people before themselves. The editing by Vatsan Dikroos is top class and is sharp making sure that narrative does not drag for longer than necessary. The cinematography by S Kumar is good and of note is the haunting climax scene which has been captured beautifully by camera. This movie has some great music by the great music director Johnson and of note is the great tragic song “Kaneer Povinte” sung the melodious M.G Sreekumar who also won the Kerala State award in 1989 for this song which has now become a cult classic in the Malayalam movie industry. The music of this movie also blends in quite beautifully with the theme of the movie i.e. tragedy and full credit to the music director. Last but not the least is the direction by Sibi Malayil  who was also a part of great directors during “Golden Period” of Malayalam cinema has certainly done a magnificent job. The great aspect of his direction is the way he handled key sensitive scenes like the scene where Thilakan beats up Mohanlal in the jail in frustration of seeing his son slowly turning into a criminal or the heartbreaking climax where Thilakan finally sees his son Mohanlal become a criminal are handled with great dignity a definite sign of a master director. Apart from great directorial skills what Malayil has also managed brilliantly is to extract two of the finest performances ever seen in Indian cinema from two of India’s finest artist’s Mohanlal and Thilakan.

As for the performances of the movie from the cast which can only be described as master class in acting especially from Mohanlal and Thilakan. As the mother of Sethu Kaviyoor Ponnamma is excellent and brings right amount of emotions required for the role. The great Jagathy Sreekumar as Ramanan the good for nothing brother-in-law of Sethu is great and yet again as always proves his great flair for comedy. As the small time goon Haidrose Cochin Haneefa is brilliant and certainly acts as a comic relief in an otherwise highly intense drama.  The beautiful Parvathi as Devi is efficient in a short role. Finally come to the master class performances of the movie beginning with the thespian Thilakan who plays the part of the heartbroken father who sees his ambition of wanting his son to become an inspector in the police force go down the drain is absolutely outstanding and riveting to watch. All his scenes with Mohanlal are master class in acting and also remind you of the magic that Brando and Pacino showed in The Godfather. As the unfortunate son Sethu whose dreams of becoming a police officer turn into a nightmare Mohanlal yet again proves that he is definitely one of the most natural actors ever seen in Indian cinema. So be it in the scene where he tells his mother that his life is slipping from his grasp, or the haunting climax scene where through his amazing body language he conveys his frustration, anger and finally realization that he has become a criminal is pure joy to watch and, he definitely thoroughly deserved the National Award (Special Jury Award) in 1989 for this masterful performance. As the antagonist Keerikkadan Jose actor Mohan Raj is great and is able to bring out the arrogance in the character quite beautifully.

Movies such as Kireedam are rarely made in Indian cinema and the reason is that to make such movies filmmakers need complete conviction in the story rather than conviction in only making money as is commonly seen in Indian cinema especially in Hindi cinema. So with this movie becoming a cult classic of Indian cinema over the years all one can hope is for more of such kind of stories and movies being made in Indian cinema in the future as well.

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“What God writes on your forehead you will become” states the holy Quran in regards to the destiny of man and no Indian movie reflects this profound statement better than the 1989 Malayalam movie classic “Kireedam” meaning “The Crown” in English and directed by Sibi  Malayil. What makes this...