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It was during a casual post lunch walk I passed through that DVD shop I dropped in and picked up this title totally unplanned, while I did it was purely based on the recall somewhere spoken in the same breath of malayalam classics. Pavithram, with an ensemble cast of Mohanlal, Thilakan, Sri Vidya, Shobana, KPAC Lalitha and newcomer Vinduja Menon, is magical while it was on screen even though it doesn't mean it was flawless. Despite its shortcomings, Pavithram manages to make you smile, moist your eyes and still grate your nerves when you think what you saw. This TK Rajiv Kumar (who had made some finest movies like Guru, Chanakyan, Mahanagaram, Kshanakkatthu), directed movie works in many parts with an unconventional storyline, competent performances and brilliant technical finesse.

Unni, a cook, is a part of a picturesque family - old parents Easwaran Pillai & Devaki who are still very much in love (played convincing by Thilakan and Sri Vidya), a loving brother Ramakrishnan practising medicine (Srinivasan) and his adoring fiancee Meera (Shobana), an unitentionally funny assistan (Innocent), his wife Punchiri (KPAC Lalitha) and the only element that doesn't go along in the 'all-is-well' set up is Ramakrishnan's wife who tears apart him from this postcard perfect family setup. At this juncture the movie takes a wild detour when Devaki gets conceived and disturbing the smooth sailing cartwheel. In ugly turn of events, Easwaran Pillai leaves home and Unni chooses his new born sister Meenakshi over his fiancee and becomes her "Chetta-achan" (brother - father). Meenakshi grows to be a rebellious kid questioning the 'pavithram' (purity) of her brother's love. Unni realises that it is too late for him to get back to Meera at his old age.

T.K Rajeev Kumar, its director, weaves a magic in the first half with the aid of sumptuous photography through the lens of Santhosh Sivan and melody of Sharath. The scenes involving the family memebers are so endearing that you feel that it shouldn't come to end, especially Mohanlal's reactions to the news that his mother is pregnant again. The naughtiness he shows in bringing her raw mangoes, KPAC Lalitha and Shobana making a pregnant Sri Vidya 'work' by giving her small broom and Lalitha littering the place or even the scenes between Sri Vidya and Thilakan, I would say that these scenes will make you fall in love with the Unni's family. And the scenes of elder Mohanlal still treating Vinduja as kid through the scenes of applying coconut oil when she is angry, the soapnut powder in the bathing ghat, showcase the pure love of an elder brother. I can keep raving a lot about the first half of the movie, till it was transferred to the fragile shoulders of Vinduja Menon. Towards the end the movie becomes cliched and melodramatic highlighting the generation gap between the protagonisits.

The performances of the lead performances are world class - Mohanlal graciously ageing from a happy go lucky Unni to a protective brother without the aid of prosthetics reminds a the Kamal's classic performance in 'Nayagan'. No second thoughts about the acting calibre of Thilakan and Sri Vidya as they look lovely as old couple in love. KPAC Lalitha steals the show as charming Punchiri along with Innocent. Shobana looks ravishing through the lens of Sivan and offers ample support to the movie. Vinduja Menon, who made a debut in this movie, reminded me a lot of Manju Warrier in some angles, but making her carry the movie in the later part was not a good decision. (TV serial) Renuka as Srinivasan's scheming wife was good even cliched.


Santhosh Sivan's frames that look like a documentation for earlier Kerala's rural life, 'naadan' kitchen, lush green beauty with the camera carressing on the 'tharavad's and capturing the finer nuances of the lead actors' performances ensure some nice visuals, especially the song "Shree Ragamo". The songs picturisation was very perfect and edited suitably to match the mood of the movie, which was the beauty of malayalam movies in 80's - 90's. Sharath's music is so soothing and has some very good songs like "Shree Ragamo" (my favourite), "Vaalinmel Poovum".

As said earlier the movie has its share of flaws... Why Unni choses the newborn kid over Meera is not properly described, also that he is unaware that Meera is still a spinster until Meenakshi shouts at him is not convincing. The cliched scenes of generation gap rubs off the magic cast in the first half of the movie. However the ending is left open leaving to the audience's choice, which was good. Infact most of the 80-90's malayalam movies were open ended and when I started watching malayalam movies I used to felt let down but later got used to it. And... I might see the movie again because of the magical first half, beautiful Kerala tharavads and ofcourse for fine performance of Mohanlal.

{mosimage} Few words about T.K Rajeev Kumar - he is one of the technical wizards who had pioneered the technical advancements in Malayalam cinema. He worked on the India's first 3D movie - My Dear Kuttichatthan (1984), India's first Akela Crane shot movie - Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu (1999) & had shot the movies - Ivar (2002) & Thacholi Varghese Chekavar (1996) fully in steadycam but also have receieved rave reviews for his directorial debut Chanakyan (1989) starring Kamal Hassan & Urmila Matondkar, Shesham (2002) featuring Jayaram and Geetu Mohandas with Kamal Hassan endorsing the movie. His later ventures ran into troubles including Seetha Kalyanam (Jayaram & Jyothika) is yet to see lights.

{oshits} readers for this movie review.