Sophisticated Large canvas and rooted mainstream: Sachy’s modus operandi

Ayyappanum Koshiyum Review

Sachy is creating a stamp of himself in Malayalam mainstream. Look at the crop of variety he’s churning out with every passing film. I am talking sans the collaboration with Sethu: which was not really laudable, most of the movies were blockbuster success but they weren’t any innovative marvels. But yeah, some of them like Robinhood and Seniors had super-duper and super-fun mainstream conceits. Which might be predominantly Sachy’s contributions? Who knows. But one thing’s for sure, Sachy is an ambitious writer and his sensibilities have been flourishing since the departure from Sethu.

The most intriguing aspect about Sachy’s writing is the unconventionally ridden formula or lets say, he uses formula trickily without falling out plain generic. Even though there are typical templates at the forefront, the screenwriting isn’t ridden by clichés, like how his contemporaries Udhayakrishna and Sibi K Thomas deals with the subject. In Sachy’s films there is no good versus evil brawl that breaks through, there is no climax that explodes with a protagonist versus antagonist confrontation and predominantly there aren’t out of the place tamperings over the genre. But it upholds well fleshed character conflicts as well as well-rounded character dynamics. There is a saying that A film is merely the director’s interpretation to what the writer has penned, or lets say one person’s dream couldn’t be the others. Sachy’s best works – Anarkali and the recently released Ayyappanum Koshiyum, essentially helmed by himself,is a testimony to the aforesaid fact.

In Anarkali he bids over the oldest and classiest of the bolly romantic clichés with a vividly etched outlook. In Ramaleela he uses the unreliable narration methodology, at the same time convincing and unconvincing the audience, breaking down with massy twists and turns. In Driving License he brings in another classic mainstream format of face-off, but the highlight is it’s unconventional morality, not riding over a hero versus villain or good versus evil. With Ayyappanum Kozhiyum he breaks bad and peaks this context to a riveting duel that attracts many dimensions of personal, social and cultural politics. As an independent writer, along with above said films, Sachy has written Run Baby Run for Joshiy and Chettayees for Shajoon Kariyal. If the former was a predecessor to Ramaleela; placed in a media-backdrop the latter had a fascinating concept centered around a woman. Sachy has also been a dialogue writer for hire, in Shafi’s Sherlock Toms.

Biju Menon

Sachy is a versatile writer. Versatile in the sense that he adapts to different genres. Anarkali was a highly melodramatic romance, Ramaleela was a mass-thriller, so to speak without any action and the recent two face-off’s are character conflicts in two different trajectories – comedy entertainer disguised in a meta-movie genre and a gritty local entertainer disguised in the political terrain. There might be arguments that even though the former are diversified the latter two are generic. But if you dig deep, AK is Sachy’s nearest-to-consummated creation as a director and as a writer, despite the fact that it’s purely formulaic.

Even Comedy is used in many derivative forms by the writer. In his Anarkali, Biju Menon takes forward the loud comedy, which he was mastering post-Vellimoonga. In Ramaleela, the humour is situational, and is enriched by the Actors performance – my favourite was Mukesh, who showed so much of promise as a caricature Police Inspector. Driving License has a quirky humour prominently associated with the rival character Bhadran (played by Suresh Krishna), it’s also meta on many levels. And in his recent Ayyappanum Koshiyum, humour is juxtaposed as both subdued and outright. It’s rooted and grounded with the characters. Most of the part here is handled by Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Koshiy and Ranjith’s character (which was the second most interesting character from the film) resonates a kind of dark humour that is piercingly subjective.

The writer’s obsession towards the “buddy-film” genre is another of his power points. If the two of his recent films could be categorised as bonafides of the genre, in two hybrid forms – comedy/drama and western. The rest of his filmography excluding Run Baby Run, has subplots as indices. In, Ramaleela for almost half the running time screen is occupied by Dileep and Kalabhavan Shajon. In Anarkali, there’s a beautiful relationship between Prithviraj and Biju Menon’s character. And, Chettayees is what we call a buddy-film in India, tho the second half makes a huge departure.

The tackling of ambitiousness: Climax

Now, the most fascinating part in Sachy’s works are the ambitious climax act or climax design per se. As i’ve mentioned above, Anarkali was a film that rides on the most clichéd romantic idea of star-crossed lovers. But more than many human interventions that forestall their unitement, the hurdle here is a picturesque landscape. A border between two lands – the sea, an outlandish Lakshadweep. Sachy, being a professionally qualified advocate is his blessing in disguise. He mostly uses procedurals and legal indices for tackling the characters and situations. Which is completely out of the cliché tropes of mainstream.

In Anarkali, he profiles Lakshadweep’s health and transportation system into the climax. But the real icing on cake is the character dynamics between Prithvi and Biju Menon, how apparently it shifts from farce comedy to high-octane melodrama. That’s a stroke of genius even though we are assured of a tail end that is quintessentially “happy”. Ramaleela’s structure is a blend of News media – Police – Politicians and one Culprit, with a Mother-Son bond being the crux. From the start to finish writing operates and swifts to unexpected territories. The climax is typically an impeccable triumph of our hero, like a masala film. But the well researched technicalities and thrills combine to give an incredible high. The fascinating part here was a double-climax, a two-fold revelation. The latter is a solidly cash-in venture on aforesaid Mother-Son crux. Run Baby Run is another of his films placed in the media-backdrop.

With his previous two films Driving License and Ayyappanum Koshiyum Sachy brings the flare of big-canvas writing to the climaxes. The former combat is not physical. It’s between powers and emotions (self-respect, dignity and aggravation). The plot is just a small driving license procedure made bigger. A learner’s test becomes a sensational topic in the media, again there’s external factors of the Motor Vehicle department – News Media – Fan mobsters and Family (the school bullying). When the learners test wraps, so many stakes are at hold. We are rooted for a much-bigger showdown, that happens to be a road-test. Here director Lal JR too envisions Sachy’s writing clearly adapting it to a larger canvas – see Kurivila’s introduction sequence for example. This is a masterclass on how a writer should write in big-canvas standards. Come back to Ayyappanum Koshiyum, here Sachy makes up for the flaws that happened in DL after the promising climax set ups. The climax of AK is a long-pending combat. It’s physical. More than a writer, here the contribution should be that of a director. And rightfully he does that with finesse, staging an exceptional native-action.

At this point when our mainstream flicks are slowly deteriorating to larger-than-life masculinity portrayals, style-over-substance nonsense (even though Amal Neerad returned from his parallel world post Iyobinte Pusthakam, there are so many successors to him at present, including a Haneef Adeni), OTT action (Pulimurugan effect, the trend continues) and big-budget showy period flicks (only hoping that Marakkar will be as proper as Kaalapani) – here’s a man who’s revitalising mass entertainment format with vibrance. With the kind of ambition we saw in Dennis Joseph’s vintage narratives.

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About the Author

Arjun Anand
CA Student who's enthusiastic about films.

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