A dark, murky tale of greed, lies, deceit, lust, love, enmity, gore, friendship and revenge, told very convincingly in true Amal Neerad style- that’s what ‘Iyobinte Pusthakam’ is. The film starts off slow, moves on at a slow pace for some time with the plot building up gradually and then it picks momentum and moves on to a predictable, somewhat gory climax. The presentation and packaging is rather convincing, the film is much better compared to Amal Neerad’s ‘Bachelor Party’, ‘Sagar Alias Jackie’ and ‘Anwar’ and over-all it’s watchable. But, let me add, as an after note, that there is nothing spectacular or extra-ordinary about the film’s plot; the only plusses are the narrative, the performances and the technical aspects. The film wouldn’t excite or exhilarate you.
An Englishman named Harrison, who was engaged in tea business in Kerala, had taken in a local youth as his trusted servant, his ever-loyal dependent and had baptised the youth and rechristened him as Job (Iyob in Malayalam). Iyob gradually evolved into being his master’s trusted lieutenant, his right-hand man. Iyob is married to Annamma (Reenu Mathews) and they have three sons, who are named Dmitri, Ivan and Aloshi by Iyob’s master after his favourite characters from Dostoyevsky’s ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. Soon the master leaves for England, only to die on the way. Meanwhile Iyob, following his master’s death, takes control of the household and assets and even throws out the pregnant Kazhali (Lena), who was rechristened Nancy and who had eventually become Harrison’s lover and second wife. Though Kazhali, held by all as sort of a witch, is thrown out by Iyob, Annamma and young Aloshi visit her and her young daughter Martha. Aloshi and Martha get closer. One night, Aloshi leaves the place after witnessing an atrocity committed by his elder brothers and lands up in Kochi.
Years later, Aloshi (Fahadh Faasil), now grown up, is in the Royal British Navy. He is one of those navy men who lead a mutiny against the British and are thus dismissed from service. He comes back home, to Munnar, after many years. At home, Iyob and his two elder sons Dmitri (Chemban Vinod Jose) and Ivan (Jinu Joseph) continue to reign over the locals, suppressing them all by force. Dmitri is married, though not happily, to Rahel (Padmapriya) while Martha (Isha Sharvani) lives along with her now mentally derelict mother. It’s from here that the story takes off...
Well, the story is narrated convincingly well, the performances are good and above all, the film is technically brilliant and with a very good background music score. But the story doesn’t keep you engrossed; the pace is sluggish at times and there is nothing much to thrill you. There is nothing about the story that makes you sit glued and attentive and added to all these, the element of predictability makes it a film that you can watch without getting bored and soon forget it and move on... That’s it, in a nutshell- not bad, not too impressive either, watchable yet forgettable, good performances, excellent support on the technical and music side but still unable to thrill or excite you. The film definitely has the Amal Neerad stamp on it. It’s better than ‘Sagar Alias Jackie’, ‘Anwar’ and ‘Bachelor Party’, but there is nothing special or spectacular about ‘Iyobinte Pusthakam’. Watch it or just ignore it, you don’t gain or lose much either way...
Fahadh and Jayasurya are the most notable guys among the cast. and Jayasurya are the most notable guys among the cast. Fahadh as Aloshi and Jayasurya as Angoor Rowther, the shrewd businessman from Tamil Nadu, excel. Lal does a neat job of his role. Vinayakan, Chemban Vinod Jose and Jinu Joseph are good. Padmapriya suits her role perfectly well while Isha Sharvani too is good. All the others suit their roles perfectly well. There is nothing negative to be said as regards the performances in the film...
Amal Neerad, who is the cinematographer as well, does an excellent job and each frame speaks tonnes of his technical expertise. Praveen Prabhakar as editor and Sabu Mohan as the art-director too have done good work.
The background score is excellent and matches the tempo of the film perfectly well. Coming to the songs, they are quite forgettable and some of them are exactly similar to the ones in earlier Amal Neerad films.
Dialogues penned by Syam Pushkaran are good, but coming to the screenplay, penned by Gopan Chithambaran, though it’s good, you don’t feel the heat and the thrill. This affects the totality of the film.
As director Amal Neerad has performed, as said earlier, better than ‘Bachelor Party’, ‘Sagar Alias Jackie’ and ‘Anwar’. He has tried to achieve a balance between content and style and is less obsessed with technicalities this time. He is in control of things, but had the script been a tad better and had the film worked out better as regards the tempo, ‘Iyobinte Pusthakam’ would have been much better.
Verdict- Not bad, not too impressive either, watchable yet forgettable, good performances, excellent support on the technical and music side but still not thrilling or exciting...
Review By Unni R Nair