Bhyanakam Review: a well-crafted movie you shouldn’t miss
The way Jayaraj has used visuals in his movies, especially in the recent past to convey the depth of situations is phenomenal and his new movie in the Navarasa series, Bhayanakam is one such gem. Along with stunning and staggering visuals, Jayaraj manages to tell a story that shows the trauma through which a character goes through using the cinematic language. With Renji Panicker delivering an outstanding performance, Bhyanakam, which is based on Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai’s Kayar is something you shouldn’t miss.
A postman is our hero. He participated in the First World War and thus got injured in his leg and the postman job was given after that. Now he has arrived at Kuttanadu. And the people see him as a sign of prosperity as he delivers money from soldiers to their relatives. Sadly the Second World War begins and the same guy who was considered as a good sign slowly becomes a messenger of the death. How he faces that situation is what Bhayanakam dealing with.
The darkness and emotional trauma in the second half of Bhayanakam are unbearable and extremely real. We will be haunted by the pain the postman goes through in that phase. It not only sheds light on the impact of the war on those days’ socio-political scenarios but also made us aware of that harsh side of a war. Jayaraj uses two color tones to differentiate the moods. In the black and white second half, multiple scenes are there which shows how the people start to hate the postman. A frustrated postman at one point had to yell when somebody assumed their loved one’s death without even realizing that it was actually a money order. The postman’s major emotional conflict is with the lady along with whom he lived there and like I said, how he handles that situation will also increase our empathy towards him.
Director/ screenwriter turned actor Renji Panicker has never really experimented much with his acting chops and this one was easily the best performance he has delivered. There is a flow in his performance and in the second half enacts the dilemma through body language and expression very effectively. The only major glitch in the movie was the dialogue rendering of Asha Sarath. She looks perfect for the role of that character. But when she says her lines, there is a kind of artificiality that spoils the mood created by the mood. Jayaraj has cast his favorite people along with others in the elaborate supporting cast and they all looked apt to play those parts.
Jayaraj emphasizes visual storytelling. In the first half things are pretty and we are getting to see the beauty and cultural elements of Kuttanadu. As the second half begins, he uses a constant rain to intensify the situation. Wide and static shots of nature’s reactions coupled with the loneliness of our hero create a genuinely haunting atmosphere. Nikhil S Praveen has done a commendable job in handling the cinematography. The sound design and cuts make it engaging while the minimally used music strengthens the core emotion.
Fear is the emotion Bhayanakam wants to explore and it does that very impressively. We are witnessing the atrocities of war through the eyes of another war victim who again gets victimized in a different way. Thus the layers here are multiple and the impact is severe.
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