After a look at the interesting Kerala Cafe a trendsetter of sorts that released in 2009 this time I would like to revisit another wonderful Malayalam film – Pranchiyettan and the Saint that released in 2010.
That writer/director Ranjith is among the better filmmakers & story tellers in Malayalam Cinema these days is not an unknown fact at all. In fact right from his 2nd film as director – Nandanam, Ranjith has been trying to churn out films which are within the so called ‘commercial’ set up but yet leave some semblance of artistic touch as well. And all his recent projects like Thirakkatha, Kerala Cafe and Paleri Manikyam- Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Katha stand testimony to the same. Considering all these things when Ranjith decided to join hands again with Mammootty for this film ( Pranchiyettan ), the project looked interesting.
What made it even more interesting was the title of the movie itself- “Pranchiyettan and the Saint”, which was not only unconventional, but also did not easily tell you what it was all about. When the first look/trailer was unveiled it partially whetted the appetite of people like me as we could finally realise what the title meant. But believe me even that was just a very small sample indeed of what was going to be in store for the viewers in the form of the movie. Adding to all the excitement was the fact that it was going to be a Eid release along with 2 other prominent movies,M.Padmakumar’s Mohanlal starrer- Shikkar & Lal-Jose’s Elsamma Enna Aankutty.
Have you ever wondered how sometimes the simplest of things can provide joy & happiness that probably even more bigger/complex things cannot provide? Do you still marvel at how for some people it is not materialistic gains alone that provide satisfaction? Do you at times stop to ponder about how in the rat race to excel, you may be missing out on some of the simple joys of life? Well if your answer is a yes to all these questions then Pranchiyettan is indeed the movie for you.
Based in Thrissur in Kerala, Chirammal Enashu Francis a.k.a Pranchiyettan (Mammootty) is a successful businessman. Though he has long diversified from his family’s traditional rice trading into various businesses including jewellery, real estate, financing etc, he is still unhappy for one reason- he feels that he does not have a strong identity and is not a true celebrity yet. Adding to his misery is the fact that a lot of people still call him as Ari (rice) Pranchi , thanks to his family’s traditional rice business. Hence Pranchi is forever trying to do something or the other that will ensure that he earns name & fame and become a true celebrity.
Right at the start of the film one sees Pranchi visiting the Church late at night and you feel that he’s there for a specific reason. He is there to know if what he wants to do now is indeed the right thing to do at this stage in his life. To his shock & disbelief, his words reach the ears of Saint Francis of Assisi and then Pranchi narrates his story to Saint Francis. He takes St.Francis and the audience through his life’s journey so far and tells us why he has always wanted to make a name for himself and what all he went through in that process.
The movie from thereon is seen through incidents narrated by Pranchi and the movie in itself can be divided into 3 distinct parts. In the 1st part of the movie one sees how Pranchi lost his childhood lady love Omana to his rival, Jose. We are also told that even now he hates to see Omana ( Khushboo ) in the company of Jose ( Siddique ). Both are doctors now & when Pranchi contests for the position of the local club president’s post, he is defeated by none other than Jose. Having decided that come what may he would do anything to get famous, there are more botched attempts at managing the same.
The 2nd part shows the entry of Padmashree (Priya Mani) in the life of Pranchi. Padmashree is an interior designer and is introduced to Pranchi by Omana. As Pranchi and Omana get friendly, Pranchi helps her by saving her ancestral home from being sold off. Pranchi soon develops a liking for Padmashree but doesn’t really manage to convey the same to her. The 3rd part starts with Pranchi visiting Antony Master, the Principal of his old school. It is the last year of service for Antony Master and he’s now worried. He wants to retire with the school delivering a 100 % success rate in the final exams. But he feels that it wouldn’t happen just because of one student- Poly. Intrigued by this, Pranchi decides to take Poly under his fold and ensure that he gets all the support to come out triumphant in the examinations.
The entire movie comes across to us as vignettes from the life of Pranchi. There is humour in abundance (though not of the slapstick variety) throughout the movie. It’s a treat to watch Mammootty as Pranchi going through hilarious situations in his attempts at becoming popular. He is matched comfortably in the initial segment by Innocent who plays Vasu Menon, a very good friend of Pranchi. Again in the 3rd segment when things get a little too heavy, there are some light moments brought about by another veteran, Jagathy Sreekumar who plays Pandit Deena Dayal. Needless to say both Innocent & Jagathy prove that their experience is worth the weight in gold with their performances.
Kushboo as Omana plays a supporting character very well, while Siddique has nothing much to do. Most of the others who play supporting roles also do justice to their characters. Ranjith himself lends his voice to St.Francis (Jesse Fox Allen) and that makes the conversations between the Saint & Pranchi to be very interesting indeed. Seasoned cinematographer Venu succeeds in capturing the indoor shots very well indeed. Especially commendable are the sequences in the grave yard & the church which convey the needed feeling of intrigue right at the beginning.Ouseppachan’s background score and the song (Kinavile) go in sync with the mood of the film.
Ranjith’s writing & direction is top notch in the film. And the dialogues written by him are extremely effective. If Mammootty comes across wonderfully while speaking the Thrissur slang, part of the credit is indeed due to Ranjith as well. But it is not that the film does not have its share of glitches. Post interval at some points, the film does indeed appear to meander aimlessly. Also some characters do not really add any relevance to the plot per se. But it is to Ranjith’s credit that he manages to overcome all these glitches and still come up triumphant. While the 3rd segment of the film especially starts dragging a bit, Ranjith makes it up for the same with the way he brings the movie to its logical conclusion.
And having spoken so much about the movie it will be a shame not to touch upon Mammootty’s performance in the film. When you watch the film, you seem to suddenly realise that Mammootty & Pranchi are so much interlinked. That’s because Mammootty makes the portrayal of Pranchi in such a natural way that you begin to even forget that this is actually a performance. We all know that some actors are really gifted enough to carry certain characters to great heights. Mammootty is one such actor and it’s remarkable indeed that he does it time & again. Though one keeps seeing memorable characters being portrayed by Mammootty often, Pranchi is a character that will not fade away with time.
As you finish the movie you’ll certainly have a smile on your face and you’ll hope to cherish some of the simple pleasures of life and that’s the victory of Ranjith and his tale of Pranchiyettan and the Saint. While the film is wonderful no doubt its also sad to see that none of Mammootty’s films after this one have worked,either commercially or critically. But with news of Mammootty and Ranjith joining hands once again coming in ( after Ranjith’s Spirit with Mohanlal is completed ) it could again be good news indeed for Mammootty and Malayalam Cinema.
Note- This post was originally written after the release of the film in 2010 but now it has been edited and published again.