thiraippadam.com logo

tamil movie database
தமிழ்
Home   Movies   Stars   Members  
               
Movie Review: Pazzhasi Raja (2009) Back to Movie
Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam
Fans Rating: 78%%78%% 78% (22 votes)
Movie Still Films about the freedom struggle and its fighters have generated many classics in Tamil cinema but they are now a thing of the past. So Pazhassi Raja, dubbed from Malayalam, is a rare entry in the genre. The film was the most expensive film in Malayalam cinema and has also turned out to be its biggest blockbuster. Chronicling the life of the titular king, who was one of the first to wage a war against the British, it narrates a little-known part of history and does it well but the lack of nativity prevents it from being as exhilarating and inspiring as it should be.

The film is set in 1792 after Tipu Sultan has handed over the Malabar province to the East India Company, which levied heavy taxes and snatched away the basic rights of the people. When his palace is raided, Pazhassi Raja(Mammootty), the king of Thalassery in the Malabar region, goes on the run with his pregnant wife(Kaniha) and his loyal followers. With his army general Edachena Kunkan (Sarathkumar) and allies like the tribals Thalackal Chanthu (Manoj K Jayan) and Neeli(Padmapriya), he stands up to the British but reconsiders his decision for the good of the common man.

It is easy to forget the fact that we are watching a dubbed film when the film's setting and culture are universal (Arundhati and Sindhanai Sei are a couple of recent examples of this). But that obstacle is a little more difficult to overcome in Pazhassi Raja. It is steeped in Keralite history and culture and so its a little off-putting to hear everybody converse in Tamil. While the movie has enough to make us admire its protagonist and his war against a much stronger adversary, the disconnect makes us watch the proceedings with a detached feeling. The patriotic stirrings and palpable excitement that arise when we see Veerapandiya Kattabomman or Kappalottiya Thamizhan are missing here.

Mammootty has a rather small band of followers whose strength is knowledge of the lay of the land rather than numbers or weaponry. So they indulge in guerilla warfare against the might of the British army and this makes the skirmishes more intimate and easier to follow. Ofcourse the logistics also become simplified with these small-scale battles(compared to wars with huge armies clashing with each other). So the fights are energetic and well-staged with the forest being utilized well for camouflage, fashioning weapons, etc.

Considering the story is about Pazhassi Raja's fight for freedom, this is a film where the end is a foregone conclusion. Still the movie creates a memorable group of characters and adds enough variety to the battles to keep things moving. The loyalty and devotion that Sarath, Manoj.K.Jayan and Padmapriya show towards Mammootty is admirable and the tough life the band leads, staying in one place only as long as the British army doesn't find it and enduring the tough terrain and weather, is showcased well.

Mammootty looks regal and in control as the king. His controlled acting and measured way of talking fit the role but there are a couple of places where one wishes he had been little more flamboyant. Sarathkumar makes a strong impression as his Commander with some subtle acting that we never saw in all those larger-than-life roles he's been doing in Tamil. The fact both Mammootty and Sarath have dubbed with their own voices is welcome. Padmapriya enjoys her role while Suman doesn't quite earn our revulsion as he sides with the British to bring Mammootty down. Ilaiyaraja's background score also comes off as low-key considering that the movie is aiming to be an inspirational tale. One of the songs sounds a bit like the duet from Siraichaalai.

Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam