KAyamkulam Kochunni, the highly anticipated film starring the Nivin-Mohanlal combo, is an intriguing tale about the life of the legendary thief Kochunni. The film begins from what appears to be the “climax” with a small narrator piece from Mohanlal. Thus, the very first scene marks the presence of Mohanlal who undoubtedly contributed to the success of the film. Kochunni (Nivin) is ushered inside the prison and one side of his face is shown in the dark. He has portrayed the life of Robin Hood since his childhood. Kochunni, a child grieved by poverty and because he is the son of a thief, leaves his homeland and reaches another village. There, a kind-hearted Brahmin feeds him and gives him a job.
The film was able to recreate the 19th century that it is trying to portray. The first half was a bit lackluster with deliberately drunk scenes trying to prove Kochunni’s bravery. The python fight scene looks very strange and unnecessary. It would be hard to tolerate the song in the article which had no connection to the plot and which seems to be deliberately inserted as a trick to hook the audience. The language spoken by the characters seems artificial. The entry of Ithikkara Pakki (Mohanlal) changes the color of the film. This cameo appearance quickens the pace of the film and sets off the spark. Kochunni becomes a thief because he is constrained by situations. He overcomes betrayal at every stage of his life and survives. His theft is justified by the fact that he gives valuables to the poor. He also fought against all the bad practices of the time, including untouchability.
Unlike the first films, Rosshan Andrews took on a big challenge this time around. Through the film ‘Kayamkulam Kochunni’, the director tried to present the story of a legendary thief, familiar to the Keralites. Overall, he was successful to some extent. Where Rosshan failed was in creating an emotional connection between the hero and the audience. Even when we identify with Kochunni, he fails to enter our heart. The film somehow misses the emotional impact it tried to create. However, he made it a safe game by casting Mohanlal for the cameo role. His entry was at the time when it was inevitable for the character as it was for the film. When the audience gets slightly bored of the plot, Ithikkara Pakki walks in and creates a hype. He creates the mood, curiosity and vigor demanded by the plot and makes Kochunni a “skilled thief”.
Commenting on the performances, Nivin did well as an innocent youngster and tough road man. The young phase was the familiar character he played in previous films and there was nothing new. Romance also has little impact on audiences. However, he needs praise for the kalari and stunt streaks in which he has shown excellent flexibility. And the transformation from the character of the youngster to the man of the road was explicit and exceptional. Mohanlal actually lived in the role of Ithikkarappakki. He was able to get the body language, facial expressions, and appearance of a bandit in meticulous detail. Thanks to the director, he was able to keep the hero the center of attention and not turned him too much towards the superstar. All female characters including that of the heroine Janaki (Priya Anand) have subsidiary roles. The villain role was safe with Sunny Wayne (Kesava Kurupp). Babu Antony effortlessly played the difficult role of Thangal without any exaggeration. The first step in the training that Kochunni receives was from Thangal. The brief appearances of some actors including Manikandan, Sudev Nair and Jude Antony Joseph were interesting.
Gopi Sundar’s music added magic to every scene. Cinematographer Binod Pradhan made an exceptional visual impact on the audience. Bobby and Sanjay’s script was solid and ensured it included all the essential ingredients for a commercial film. The director’s extensive research was evident in the painstaking recreation of the era, its social order and way of life.
While there were moments in the movie that were overblown and you would shrug your shoulders in disbelief, this epic thriller will keep you going until the end. It’s a gripping and inquisitive tale of Kayamkulam Kochunni’s life that is worth your time and money.