Jallikattu (Review): Toxic masculinity goes haywire in this spectacle!

Jallikattu Movie

Jallikattu is a traditional event in which a bull is released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to grab the large bump on the bulls back with both arms and hang on to it while bull attempts to escape, as per wikipedia. However, according to Lijo the film has nothing to deal with the title. But whatsoever it is unmeant of it, the title unintentionally relies in sync with the film’s novelty. As a frenzy masculine spectacle and a cultural jamboree. Lijo’s film is based on a wafer thin plot, a Buffalo runs amok in a village and the destruction that follows. It has men behind the run for realm of manhood in the village. It leads to a devastating climax that emphasise culture.

Jallikattu starts with clock ticking music, the cuts too syncs with the music, It fast cuts with the villagers eyelids, waking up. Their daily routines. They visit Varkey (Chemban Vinod Jose), the butcher who’s part of their major routine: meat, the village men seems to be obsessed with red flesh of Buffalo. They open the day buying meat, hangs the polyethylene bags before entering the church. We get a man who’s planning his daughter’s marriage. A frustrated police officer engaged in wife beating & bashing. Anthony (Anthony Varghese) who has lustful eyes for Varkey’s Sister (Santhy Balakrishnan).

Lijo is someone who broke the conventional Sathyan Anthikkad village through a quirky utopian: Kumarangini in his Amen. The place where Jallikattu is happening seems to be in Pathanamthitta, forest clone areas. Like what Padmarajan did with Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil, Lijo too portraits the dark & grey shades of the Village & gives a climax exploration. Every hypnotic vibe goes haywire when Varkey’s bull runs amok. Ever since, the title shows up, it makes arrangements for a spectacular cinematic extravaganza.

Man v Beast disintegration & Socio-political commentary

The men of the village puts their sleeves up and sets to hunt down the beast for claiming the crown of manhood of the village. The bull starts to go rampage, it leads to destruction of farm lands. But what makes this even worse is the toxic men behind it’s run. It’s them who are lingering this violence. A troop from poomalam, communist party workers, the police inspector who’s triggered by the villages, everyone is now with the same goal of slaughtering the bull after a couple of faltered attempts. Personal vendetta between Kuttachan (Sabumon) & Anthony gets one subplot of it’s own, and makes it even more terrifying. Their aggression manifests to toxicity, literally these men are dissolved to animals.

What leads is an ultimate savagery of a dog-eat-dog’s world, heinous cannibalism and ultimately a breakdown of civilisation. Jallikattu mixes this with contemporary politics, a tv news about the Sabarimala controversy runs in midst. The famed beef campaign of our country, where people claim ownership of one & another in two contrast of perceptions. S Hareesh & R Jayakumar writes a profane screenplay, that also juxtaposes system with aforesaid. A catholic who’s farm has been destroyed by this brutality files a petition for entrenchment. What begins with small damage ends as a catastrophe of all sorts.

Technical finesse & Performances

The final stretches in Jallikattu is breathtakingly staged, viscerally detailed & the soundscape comprising of Prashant Pillai’s sounds & Renganaath Ravi’s design is effin exhilarating. Most of the shots (Girish Gangadharan handles the dop) are long, but not hold too long. Lijo composes chaos at all it’s glory. Whether in the roadside brawls or the grasping hunting. Jallikattu feels like a culmination of the slickness & visual appeal of Amen, the cacophony of chaos & gore of Angamaly Diaries and finally the audacity of EeMaYau. The central character is no matter what, the Bull, done partly using animatronics & vfx. It was so well put. The women of Jallikattu are clearly oppressed, marginalised yet intelligent. Varkey’s sister is the representation of women in the village, she is patriarchal. Antony Varghese gives a knockout performance, his backstory with Sabumon is reminiscent of Pepe’s & Appani Ravi’s in Angamaly Diaries, he outperforms himself here.

To say, Lijo Jose Pellissery will soon bring an Oscar to India, won’t be an outlandish or ambiguous statement anymore. The man has pulled back-to-back masterpieces in a course of 3 years, that defines his filmography as well as the new generation Malayalam cinema. Trust me, Jallikattu is something that you would have never seen. For those who are planning to watch the film, i recommend multiplexes.

Rating: 4/5

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About the Author

Arjun Anand
CA Student who's enthusiastic about films.

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