Director Renjith who conceived this idea of making 10 short films which get grounded by a coffee shop in a railway station called Kerala Cafe, has given a mammoth task to his friends, the 10 directors. It's a nice concept more than a nice film. The message is loud and clear as each story tries to send out a clear picture of nuances of life thereby taking us in a roller coaster ride through the cross section of the world we live.
I will list out the ones I thought were superlative efforts and will leave the average ones.
Movie no: 2 - Island Express - This train starts moving on an unconventional note and unrelated characters in Prithviraj, Jayasurya, Sukumari, Rahman and Raju who all convey to pay homage to their loved ones. But less we know that these were the left-overs of the biggest rail accident Kerala has ever witnessed - the 1988 Peruman tragedy. The more we get into the skin of the characters, the more we like them. The last scene where Prithvi tells her girlfriend pointing to a disintegrated Raju "he was the one who drove the train that day" is touching.
Movie no: 5 - Happy Journey - After an eternity, I could see the vintage Jagathy on screen and tell you what, it's worth 200 bucks. He's characterized as a middle aged 'flirt of the town' who tries to have a crack on a gal seated next to him in the KSRTC bus from Ernakulam to Calicut. As the story goes on, he finds the gal too strong and mysterious to be on top thus learning a strong lesson. For Jagathy's performance, the Kerala Cafe hits half-way on a high note.
Movie no: 8 - Bridge - I was taken back when I read the name of the director of this masterclass, Anwar Rasheed. The film talks about two families in parallel, one where an angry father throws away his son's pet cat into the bemire streets of cochin and the other were Salim Kumar leaves his mentally challenged mother into the streets because he couldn't take care of her anymore. Do I need to explain more? It's a classy take on defection.
Movie no: 9 – Makal – Revathy who directed this flick has penned the story as well. Though the story moves on predictable lines, it’s still worth a watch for some breathtaking visuals captured by ace cameraman Madhu Ambat and some stellar performances, especially from the kid who plays the makal character. Yes, we have seen movies like Mahanadi which were more gripping but laudable is the effort put.
Movie no: 10 – Puramkazhchakal – We are in the Idukki-Munnar route. Here we have one protagonist in Sreenivasan, who’s shown as an epitome of failed love who constantly thinks about her ex though with a lump in his throat and the second one in Mammootty who’s mysterious and tough earning a lot of irk from the people in the bus. We wonder where it’s heading before the last shot which is the most riveting and unexpected end to a cinema I have seen in a long time. And suddenly, I felt like going back and rehash the events in the bus which is excactly what the director wanted me to do.
The verdict: A pat on the back of director Renjith for coming up with an interesting concept which we haven’t seen in movies down south. Ther eare flaws obviously in the form of the other 5 films but still, Kerala Café succeeds in keeping the audien glued to the screen till the credits roll. I found myself applauding in the end which is very unlike me J. Reason – it’s a winner all the way!