Monday Malayalam: Kammara Sambhavam (No SPOILERS), Art That Disturbs Rather than Comforts

I made a very foolish decision and went to see this movie on Sunday night before getting up early on Monday. And on a full moon night. And then I got lost on the way home. It was a weird evening, is what I am saying, and that is even without watching this very very strange film.

This is a very ambitious film. Perhaps impossibly ambitious, it tries to combine a statement on history, a statement on film, on politics, and on human nature, all with dusting of WWII and the INA on top. Oh, and maybe also a statement on Dileep’s real life person. Not clear.

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On the one hand, I respect the ambition, I like to see a film that tries to be more than the run of the mill story. And it achieves the broad outlines of its goals, I get the cynical statement on politics and history and a refreshingly dark view of the WWII era. But on the other hand, it really really drags as the time goes on. I kind of got the point already, and then the point just keeps being repeated and repeated and repeated.

The other problem, which I think is just sort of built into the concept of the film, is that it feels terribly unbalanced. The first half is unrelentingly terribly dark, culminating in a horrific sequence of terrible things. And then the second half is completely superficial and full of dark comedy. It’s supposed to be like that, we are supposed to have the whiplash feeling of the incredibly bleak reality versus the cynical modern version. But it might be more whiplash than the audience can handle. A brave attempt to shock the audience into certain realizations, but perhaps too shocking to make a strong movie.

Something that was not a problem was the casting of Dileep. This is perhaps the perfect role for him. Both as an actor and a public figure. The first half leans on his speciality, humorously playing two sides against each other. The second half leans on his personal charisma and onscreen confidence as an older star. And the whole thing works perfectly (coincidentally or on purpose, I don’t know, even before the recent scandal it seems like the film industry itself must have known Dileep as an extremely powerful and somewhat unscrupulous person) with Dileep’s current public issues.

Siddharth is…okay. Very very handsome, very very earnest. And he has a great line making fun of his Bhagat Singh role in Rang De Basanti. It’s a less interesting part, mostly. He plays the perfect noble type figure for most of the film, but there are a few moments when he gets to play a ridiculous villain caricature, and he has one scene at the very end that is really tricky and lovely. So I guess he is better than I gave him credit for! He suffered through the boring role and really brought it when he had to in the fun bits.

Namitha Pramod I was excited about, hoping she would have something interesting to do. And she does not, not at all. Very boring. If you were hoping for a complicated strong female character, it’s not her. It is Shweta Menon. Well, not exactly “complicated”, but certainly fun to watch and I am sure also fun to play!

(Event his song was cut, that’s how little Namitha time there is)

Murali Gopy, the screenwriter for this movie, is also in the mix as one of the many many many characters. That’s not a problem with the movie, it expertly juggles all the different moving pieces of the setting and the characters within it, I could keep track of them all easily. If anything, I wanted even more characters. Or at least more time spent with other characters, Dileep did kind of overshadow the film.

It’s a first time director, and it shows a little, but mostly it doesn’t matter who directed the movie because it is Murali’s film above all. I looked him up when I got home and realized I already had seen one of his movies, Left Right Left, which I found COMPLETELY confusing. This one is more about general Indian history rather than specific Kerala politics, so I could follow it better. Although I am guessing I still missed a whole bunch of Kerala specific stuff.

Overall, this is a tricky film. It’s not an easy watch. It’s disturbing in a lot of ways, disturbing in content, disturbing in the experience of watching as it swings between emotions, and disturbing in the very dark and cynical ending. And disturbing because it goes on a little too long and repeats a little too much. But it’s also a unique film, I can’t think of anything else really like it. So if you feel like being disturbed by art, this might be worth a watch.

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12 thoughts on “Monday Malayalam: Kammara Sambhavam (No SPOILERS), Art That Disturbs Rather than Comforts

  1. Is the title supposed to be “Kumara Sambhavam” rather than “Kammara”? The former makes sense; I don’t know if the latter is a Malayalee word that I don’t know.

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  2. When I read that Sidharth is working on malayalam movie I was sure I must see it. When the trailers came out and I saw it’s not my kind of film I was less excited. Now, after reading your review I care even less. I think I’m already too cynical, and I need movies which meliorate my attitude towards world and not the ones which say: you see, you were right the world sucks.

    P.S It’s Kammara

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  3. I am glad u watched and reviewing this film. It was a special movie. Very different and dark still very enjoyable.
    I watched the initial original version of the film which was over 3 hours. Later after getting mixed reviews they trimmed the film around 15 minutes from each half and the romance song was cut. Namithas portions probably edited out from first half as it wasnt very significant.
    First half was really good and flawless. an intense period drama. After reading some facebook reviews i learned it was a lot about kerala political history and had some really controversial political statements. Murali gopy is an intelligent and tricky writer and the main characters and events are symbolic to some political organizations and historical events and wouldnt have been safe for him to say anything directly.
    But the second half falters. As u said they were repeating the same thing. I wish the second half made me laugh more.
    I think it was technically brilliant. director and cinematographer were debutants still it was technically superior to any other malayalam films. War scene was incredibly shot like a hollywood film. (Siddharth got all the nice action scenes).Budget of film is around 18 crores INR which is huge for a malayalam film still small compared to other industries. (Budget of october was 20 crores ). I am really looking forward to the future works of director and cinematographer.
    And Dileep was really good. In the first half he needed to make the audience despise him but still he need to make them laugh and entertained. Second half he needed to be like a masala film hero and in the end he needed to be convincing as a 96 year old man. inaddition he need to play dileep himself. He was very effective in all these roles and i cant think of anyother actor now who would be as convincing for this role. Siddharth during the audio launch function revealed the nickname for dileep in tamil film industry. He said they used to call him Rakshasa nadikan(Demon actor) since he overshadows everyone else on screen and nobody can outshine him.
    Eventhough flawed, film was well worth my time and money.
    and a completely off the topic news, a bollywood film on RSS history is announced. Akshay kumar as the hero. Bahubali writer will do the script. Budget around 150 crores

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    • I am sure the RSS film will be about how they brainwashed young people and caused the assassination of Gandhi. Ha-ha, of course it won’t! Yeah, I have mentioned it because I am too depressed about it.

      Agree about Dileep, the first half especially, there had to be a little humor in there or else it would have been unwatchable, and he managed to make his character funny without making him unlikable. It truly was a “this is the only person who can play this role” kind of role.

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      • This is why I said you shouldn’t try to write about politics, communalism, or what have you in India. The RSS neither brainwashes young people nor did they cause the assassination of Gandhi. But you can believe whatever you want. We agree on this, that the film won’t be worth watching. Hindi films in general are terrible when it comes to handling complex subjects.

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  4. Now I am not sure I want to see the movie, I typically like Dileep movies… even with the bad WOM I was thinking, this should be seen, then seeing your review… I am thinking hmmm…. maybe this needs to be missed.

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    • It’s not a movie for everyone. Very very complicated, very very dark.

      On Mon, Apr 30, 2018 at 9:34 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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