'Pazhassi Raja' is a sweeping historical epic about the legendary hero of Kottayam Padinjare Kovilakam who rallied Kurichiyar natives for a guerilla war against the British rule.
It's a stirring and majestic film that serves as a brilliant tribute to an age when a bunch of gallant men and women fought a valiant battle to guard their honor; to each one of those blessed souls laid down in a long winding, bloody war determined to liberate a country from the shackles of tyranny and oppression.
The story commences at a far more unhurried pace than what follows, introducing the viewers to Pazhassi being ousted out of his palace by the British army, on the behest of his own uncle. Taking refuge in the mountainous terrains of Wynad, Pazhassi unleashes a tough battle against the Queen that marked the beginning of a resistance movement against the British rule in the state.
Hariharan's film is truly a masterpiece in that it has the manner, matter and mood of a monumental epic, in the finest sense of the word. This is no ordinary film that tells the story of a hero; rather, it's a stellar celluloid piece that vividly recaptures every moment in history, never for a moment losing out on the human drama, never compromising on its immense scope or scale, never ever letting go of its elaborate craft and detail.
The film is full of invigorating battle sequences that literally involve a mammoth cast of hundreds and hundreds of people. Magnificently staged, they feel real, and mounted on a giant-scale entertainment canvas, this is perhaps the first time ever that a Malayalam film awes you on account of its visual brilliance. There are any number of spectacular sequences here that would surprise you on account of their visceral energy.
'Pazhassi Raja' has a running time of nearly three hours and twenty minutes, but M.T's script has enough compelling momentum to keep the viewers focused on the film. While the bloodshed is raw, so is the passion and the film packs quite a punch, as a war legend that combines the most powerful principles of traditional storytelling with state-of-the-art technical supplements.
Ramnath Shetty comes up with sheer poetry and achieves a picturesque fineness with the imagery, as his camera pans the enormous landscapes, mountains and caverns, dense jungles and rivers. As the dazzling visuals gently blend in with the heavenly background score by Ilayaraja, the outcome is pure, blissful harmony. Resul Pookkutty who has worked up wonders aplenty with the exceptional sound direction, Sreekar Prasad who has remarkably edited this magnum opus and Ravi Diwan who has impressively choreographed the overwhelming action sequences deserve a special mention as well.
Mammooty's central performance is as sturdy as it gets, and his Warrior King inspires, in both his messianic passion and his steadfast valor. Sarath Kumar as Edachena Kunkan, delivers an exhilarating act that should be the best in his career as yet. Manoj K Jayan and Suresh Krishna, along with Padmapriya and Kaniha, come up with outstandingly impressive feats and make this historical film a treasure house of fine performances.
A breathtaking film that demands repeated screenings, 'Pazhassi Raja' might very well be the best you get to see for a very long while. An exotic chronicle that stuns us with its fascinating tale, this is the stuff that tours de force are made of.