Mollywood’s Poster Boy of Experimental Cinema-Lijo Jose Pellissery!
From the flawless narrative to the rawness of the content,from the heartwarming music to the stunning cinematography, from the 11 minutes long climax single shot to the brilliant newcomers and from the ethnicity of Angamaly to how good looking Anthony Vaerghese is, everything about Angamaly Diaries is the talk of the town.Almost every audience entered the theatres with no idea on what to expect and came out with blown minds. Probably this is the only film in the recent past (except Kammattipadam) where every detail was counted and praised.So by the end of the day all credits goes to the captain of the ship,Lijo Jose Pellissery! And we feel that this is the perfect time to take a close look at the director’s films,their making, collaborations and find out what makes him so relevant in the art of filmmaking, so here we go…
Before starting off with Pellissery’s film career,to those who didn’t know,Lijo Jose Pellissery has a film background as his father, Jose Pellissery was a renowned theatre/movie actor. Lijo Jose Pellissery had tried his hand in short film making too. Still the name popped up in front of the cinema going audience in his debut film ‘Nayakan’. The film never really looked like a debutant’s work, it had a clean making.The way the traditional art form of Kathakali was used to portray anger and violence was remarkable. Pellisssery had powerfully registered his entry in the film industry with Nayakan. His second film,’City Of God’ is possibly the first Malayalam film to use the technic of ‘hyperlinked story telling’ and the much noticed and appreciated part of the film was the perfect blend of various classes of lifestyles in the film. The film didn’t receive box office success or even a good opening at movie halls even though the film had stars like Prithviraj and Indrajith.Pellissery tasted the sweetness of success with his third film ‘Amen’.Although the story line was simple and well known, the narrative, the stellar performances and the soulful music gained love from the audience. Also people always love to believe in the concept of ‘God will always favor the good’. The little fantasy elements and the purity of the content was loved and by the end of the film everyone craved for Solomon’s victory. ‘Amen’ can easily be called a ‘People’s hit’. Every filmmaker who gives a hit film is expected to continue doing that with every film,the expectations where high when it came to ‘Double Barrel’. The film had a huge star cast and with whatever small details the audience received prior to the film’s release were exciting as well.But the film didn’t live up to the expectations.Some appreciated the attempt and some criticized harshly.But the coolest part post the release was that the director remained unapologetic! In fact he came up with a facebook post that said “No plans to change;no plans to impress”!!! Very rarely we hear such statements from a man working in the movie business. The next update on a Lijo Jose Pellissery movie that we recieved was that he is starting a film with 80+ newcomers and it’s written by actor Chemban Vinod Jose. The reactions were quite neutral.The film was shot and recently released and now, people are running out of words to praise the film!
These are the works of the man did in the past 6 years and when we look back we see nothing but various forms of telling a story through the medium of Cinema. He has proved that the hit/flop tags that comes with his previous works are not going to stop him from trying something new.And at the latest arrival he had nothing to lose, so the attempt was ‘Katta Local’! His genres vary,his making styles vary but the passion remains constant.
An amazing factor about Pellissery’s films is that there’s never a moment where a particular element is protruded than the other.All elements like the cinematography or the editing or the music or the acting, every element will be equally good,none will overshadow the other.This shows how well the filmmaker knows his craft. As Quentin Tarantino puts it “a filmmaker’s major job is to assemble the best technicians,explain what he/she wants and get the work out of them”,Pellissery clearly seems to know the drill.From his films we can see he is a team player and a perfectly organised film becomes a perfectly made film.
Even though Lijo Jose Pellissery has done only 5 films so far,he has collaborated with many great talents.Today,working in any department of a Lijo jose Pellissery film can certify a technician to be great at his work.The first mention has to be Prashanth Pillai the Music Director who is working with the director since Nayakan. The music album of Amen has to be credited as the best by far and the film itself was a musical. The romantic number, ‘Ea Solomonum Shoshannayum…’ from the film was able to transport the listeners to a peaceful sweet romantic mood and that too with a retro feel.The album was one the best orchestrated albums in Malayalam movie music.And it won’t be right to miss the tunes of Angamaly Diaries which is currently on everyone’s lips!The director’s association with actors should also be acknowledged,he has worked with Indrajith in 4 of his film, with Prithviraj in two and despite being stars they were used in the films as actors and their versatility was proved. Fahadh Fazil’s portrayal of the innocent Solomon in Amen is also an unforgettable performance.Legendary actor Thilakan appeared in the director’s first film, Kalabhavan Mani earned praises for Amen,his friend who has become his new film’s script writer, Chemban Vinod Jose became familiar to the audience through his films and the 86 new faces of Angamaly Diaries are receiving boundless love from the audience.They are definitely going to stick around for a long time.
Pellissery’s films have had stunning and different styles of cinematography. Abhinandan Ramanujan has worked with him twice and people who have watched Amen will never forget the beauty of Kumarankary in moonlight. City Of God is counted as one of the best works of Sujith Vassudev. The plight of Gireesh Gangadharan was seen in the making video of Angamaly Diaries but the final product was worth the run and the strain.Long single shots are seen in City Of God and Amen as well but the 11 minutes long single shot has received most of the appreciation and therefore Gireesh Gangadharan is called the “Hero” of the film!
We have seen many filmmakers around the globe who come up with a totally different point of view on cinema and it is something that they all possessed makes our honorable man in the write up so relevant in the art of movie making,absolute Fearlessness! He doesn’t go by commercial needs or people’s expectations or the so called “social responsibilities” that is assigned to a filmmaker when is comes to the quality of his project. And where there is experiment,there are new outcomes and more variety. Even in the years ahead,we don’t have any guarantee on how a Lijo Jose Pellisserry film will be, we will have to watch them and find out but one thing is sure,he will present an entirely new dish in front of us.
Winding up with a salute to the Man’s daring. Angamaly Diaries has set a benchmark and grossing all the success it deserved. We are now open to the director’s unpredictable talent and surely one day when we turn back to the history of Malayalam cinema, the contribution of Lijo Jose Pellissery would be a huge part of it.
P.S: The sweet appearance in ‘Sapthamasree Thaskaraha’ is something that should not be left unacknowledged, it is too sweet to miss!
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Hardcore Film Lover and Ardent Movie Goer, Aspiring Film Maker.