A scene from ‘Higuita’
If Colombian footballer René Higuita were to look higuita, he would probably be left wondering why the makers named the film after him. In NS Madhavan’s story of that name, the story of the football player has some parallels to how the protagonist rises above the limitations imposed on him by the priest’s robe to save a girl from her persecutor.
However, Hemant G. At the center of Nair’s film is Panniyannur Mukundan (Suraj Venjaramoodu), a powerful politician who specializes in survival games and moving up the ladder. The parallels seem forced, and the title is appropriate as an afterthought, with his plot to stay ahead of his opponents more than Higuita’s unorthodox methods. Just in case that doesn’t sound convincing, there’s an epilogue in which he kicks a football.
director: Mr. Hemant. Nair
mold: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Dhyan Srinivasan
Order: 150 minutes
Story: Ayyappadas, an aimless youth, is positioned as the gunman of a powerful politician. But, to tackle the challenges of the job, he must first overcome his fear.
But, somehow, it is not the politician but his gunman Ayyappadas (Dhyan Sreenivasan) who gets more of our attention. It has to do with how the character is written and how the actor does it. Ayyappadas, who gets a police job after his father’s death, is a very scared man, we are told by several characters. We won’t know until we are told, as Dhyan plays Ayyappadas as an expressionless man with only a few dialogues.
Hemanth’s screenplay is set in Kannur, the favorite locale for political films in Malayalam these days. Like most of those movies, the place is portrayed as a dark, violent corner of the kingdom where everyone walks around with daggers drawn. In fact, one of the few attempts at humor in the film is about a man preparing to throw some country bombs at the house of a relative, a rival party worker, on the eve of his daughter’s wedding, because he’ invited for the same.
The stereotype of the town is rivaled only by how the script stereotypes the politicians. Even Panniyannur Mukundan is a familiar cardboard character, so reminiscent of many others in such films. Some real-life events and personalities with similar names are woven into the script, but it often takes liberties with the facts, and appears one-sided for the most part. Many political attacks or assassinations are portrayed as inside jobs, and suggest that these are common occurrences, although news reports over the years tell us otherwise. Meanwhile, the main opposition in the state is completely missing from the picture.
But even if these facts are ignored, the film is quite ambiguous about what it wants to say. The script, as well as the gunman, from whose point of view we see much, oscillates between admiration and disbelief for Panniyanur Mukundan, the political veteran whose hands are also not so clean. Mukundan is sometimes heard uttering funny lines like ‘a scared man is the greatest of obscenity’ as words of advice to his gunman, as instilling some confidence in him seems to be the goal of a politician’s life. But, viewers will have to sit through a dull, aimless script for the Gunman to get over their fears. It is no wonder that women are almost absent from this world.
Higuita is currently playing in theaters