I love the electricity of a full house – when every seat in a movie theatre is packed. It doesn’t happen often and when it does, you should be grateful.
This week, we saw an overflowing theatre for the FC Blockbuster screening of Jallikattu, directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery. People started lining up at 6 pm for a 7.30 pm screening. The crowd included directors Vikramaditya Motwane, Bejoy Nambiar, Rajat Kapoor and Hardik Mehta. A few people who didn’t get seats stayed anyway just to hear the director talk during the post-screening Q and A session. All of which revealed once again that there is an audience out there craving new movie experiences and Lijo, who earlier made Angamaly Diaries and Ee. Ma. Yau, has become a bonafide rockstar. With unkempt hair and a hesitant smile, he certainly looks the part. When I asked him what stresses him out most, he said question-and-answer sessions!
Jallikattu is a 90-minute masterclass in tight, visceral storytelling. In a village in Kerala, a bull runs amok. The day-long chase for the animal reveals the simmering tensions and rivalries that erupt as frustration mounts. The film establishes (in places, a little too forcefully), that human beings are the real beasts. The film is also a scathing critique of masculinity – men are violent, selfish, insecure. They equate their sense of self with domination – over women, animals and nature itself. But a ticking clock tells us that time is running out. Jallikattu has stunning visuals and features several long, unbroken takes – the Lijo Pellissery signature (Angamaly Diaries has a 11-minute single shot). Girish Gangadharan, who shot both films, was also at the screening. When I asked if he would join us for the Q and A, I got a single-word answer – No. The reticence of Malayalam artists to speak is refreshing but sometimes, I wish they would take a cue from their Bollywood counterparts and be more comfortable in the limelight. I for one, want more insight into how they are making all these terrific films.