Love is inexplicable for George David (Nivin Pauly) in Alphonse Puthran’s pun-filled entertainer “Premam.” We get it from the way in which the guy fumbles for words while writing a clandestine love letter for Mary, in the film’s hilarious intro.
Like the butterfly which dots honey from the tulips, Premam has an old school charm to it that I found irresistible right from the word-go. And, like the bitterness it leaves in its wake – it has moments of heartbreak as well that may leave a lump in your gorge. Alphonse’s second coming post “Neram” is brilliantly acted and synthesized, but, more than acting, beyond anything else – it’s charm lies in its sheer craftsmanship, the boyhood genius that Alphonse is.
One would get a scoop of familiarity when the film’s conventional denouement leads to George eventually tying knots with Celine (An evangelistic Madonna Sebastin) that after having flopped with Mary and Malar. Who is Celine? Doesn’t matter because we know who George is, and know his side of the story.
Thankfully, Alphonse is adamant is telling that story only not in dwelling deeper into the emotion which very few, except maybe a renowned poet, could explain in mere words or pictures. It is perhaps best left inexplicable a feeling as for George, as it is for us.
Arguably the minor downfall of Premam lies in the safer approach which Alphonse took to finish off an otherwise daring work. I say that not because I didn’t like the ending, but because perhaps there was a catch to leave the film with an open ending, much in the tradition of “Kabhi Haan, Kabhi Naa” the once classic SRK starrer which dealt with a similar theme. Maybe this explains as to why Premam is no cup of tea for the Purists out there or the neg-headss. More on that later.
The parallel narratives to George’s tryst with love, are in fact where Premam’s real soul lingers. The friendship which George, Koya and Sambhu hold onto forever is not just easily relatable but one that spans across years and years if not generations. Bulk of the film, although titled Premam, revolves around the trio’s ballyhoo back in their law college days; an oddball narrative which strikes the right chord w.r.t humor, rebellious action, colorful songs, brilliant camera work and double entendre – plenty of them.
I liked the portions where George, Koya, and Sambhu loiters around Malar (an effortless Sai Pallavi) with the Physical Trainer (an excellent Soubin) and Professor Vimal (an understated and deadpan Vinay Fort) accompanying them. Even as nothing much changes in terms of character development, we discover what is behind the veneer of these people. And, upon seeing that, it’s even evident Alphonse has a knack for creating engaging conversations too in a film that demands quite a few.
In the highlight scenes of Premam; George and Co contemplate Vimal Sir’s supposed likeness towards Malar, all zeroing in on that laughter evoking jibe in the Engineering classroom, wherein the latter’s Java class turns out to be “Mava.” (Slip of the tongue)
Much later in the film, though, we realize that even as the years’ change and the times go by – their histrionics still revolve around George, the plans they make for their best buddy. You tend to relate to these portions because that is how it is in real life – people doesn’t change, nor do circumstances although times do change in a big way.
Sadly, irrespective of how much money Premam might have spun at the box office; watching the film now in TV or elsewhere one gets the feeling the neg heads in Kerala didn’t quite appreciate the film completely, as well as one, would have liked.
The neg-headss has a problem with the sheer predictability or with Premam’s basic premise being “the nothing new, the same old stuff.” Even those who liked the film to some extent damn with faint praise – “it is the same old wine in a new bottle.” (Really?)
The neg-headss have watched too much sabotage of boy meet girl-girl meet boy boosterism it seems. And, in the process maybe they have forgotten what Love is in real life too; that love can be mundane, understated, meandering, hit and miss/the “nothing new, and the same old stuff” as we saw in Premam.
The film’s gargantuan running time of 2 and a half hours is a bit of a problem, but, hey, you wouldn’t mind getting sucked into this drama even after 150 minutes of Charade. Sucked in, like listening to a Bohemian Rhapsody in a lost highway or a Dom Cobb in a Limbo. Or, “Malare ninne Kanathirunnal” the same humming tune in your lips as it’s in mine – shot exquisitely right in the epicenter Kodaikkanal. What entertainment, you would have to be a cynic not to like this. Period.