The writer-director duo of Sathyan Anthikad and Sreenivasan need no introduction in Malayalam Cinema. They have been keen observers of, and commentators on the conundrum that Kerala society is, for over three decades and their movies have made the average Malayali laugh their hearts out and think, to an extent. Not that anyone sane would expect Cinema of all things to bring about change in a Malayali. The best of both artists have come to the fore when they have collaborated, with Sandesham being hailed as their magnum opus. They teamed up for the first time in T.P Balagopalan M.A and have delivered some of the most memorable films of our times. One of the most talked about rather lamented “Mohanlals” of yesteryear is the one from the films by this duo, the “quintessential face of the common man” as you would have it in Malayalam Cinema, before the “other” Mohanlal, the one from another school of filmmaking entirely, that of Ranjith took over. Sathyan Anthikad and Sreenivasan went on to make movies cast in the same dye with another actor who fit their bill, Jayaram. That grew old on the audience quickly thanks to the recurring themes in those movies. Sathyan Anthikad found gold again recently, on his own though, with Fahadh Faasil. Oru Indian Pranayakadha presented Fahadh in a previously unseen light and Sathyan Anthikad must have been as delighted as the audience with the results. Here was an actor who could finally carry the burden of their creative expectations with ease. It was only a matter of time before Sathyan dialed his pal and told him the news. Looks like he did that and hence, Njan Prakashan.
Njan Prakashan is basically an ensemble of all plot situations that we have come across in Sreenivasan- Sathyan Anthikad films to date. I think it is even safe to call it a self tribute of sorts that the duo have paid themselves here. It starts off with the Poland reference yes, though the joke has been over done in every other Malayalam film from the new crop I guess they still hold the right to use it. Then of course there’s the nod to the change of name from Mazha Peyunnu Madhalam Kottunnu. And the political party in town is still called RDP, saw that in at least two other recent films that I can count of. I could also count at least one plot reference from their first collaboration T.P Balagopalan M.A, that being Prakashan’s bonding with Salomi’s family and the subsequent rejection which reminded one of Mohanlal’s interaction with Balan.K.Nair who played dad to Shobhana’s character in T.P. The next significant re-enactment featured Sreenivasan himself where he managed to successfully infuse the scenes from Gandhinagar Second Street in which his character gets embrassed before the public and has a tryst with the law and gets branded a thief when goes out of his way to help his friend, into Njan Prakashan. This evoked some genuine lingering laughter in the audience in my part of the world and yes, me too. That brings us to the female characters in the film who serve as teachers in life lessons to Prakashan. They again bear shades of all Sathyan Anthikad leading ladies we have seen in the recent past, hard working young women who shoulder the burden of the family in the absence of a patriarch. The only surprise is the character played by Nikhila Vimal which is a first in Sathyan Anthikad films if I’m not wrong. I could still go on about the recurring themes but don’t get me wrong here, Njan Prakashan is indeed one of the better cinema experiences of the season still and the film has none other than Fahadh Faasil to thank for it. The man is easily the finest actor in the country today and in the hands of the right filmmaker he simply revels. He was a revelation in comedy scenes in Oru Indian Pranayakadha and he has picked up from where he left off in that film here in Njan Prakashan. When it comes to nuanced transformations and expressions, I would go so far as to say that even Mohanlal of the yore would pale in comparison when Fahadh is on a roll.
Sreenivasan has always been looked upon as a sympathiser of the Communist cause in the State though it’s with cynicism that he has portayed his leanings in his films. Here too he doesn’t hesitate to poke with a single line and that’s almost the only original tribute to vintage Sreenivasan, who in my book is the Woody Allen of Malayalam Cinema. Now this could be speculation entirely on my part but I can’t but help assuming that maybe Sathyan Anthikad and Sreenivasan have had help from the younger generation to stay relevant with the jokes and the interests of the youth of the present, especially the women. This thought came to me because I noticed the name of Sreebala.K.Menon who made her debut after a stint in the Anthikad stable in the titles. Sreenivasan has also found space for his pet themes which have put him in the seat of controversy in the recent past. We get to see the Sreenivasan take on social issues from the migrant labor phenomenon to the waning interest in agriculture amongst the populace of the State but he makes sure that he doesn’t indulge in these personal themes which helps the film too. And the one statement that I would like to make the most here is that when a film that tickles your funny bones for most parts shifts shapes and transforms itself into a tearjerker with a couple of brilliant performers like K.P.A.C Lalitha and Fahadh Faasil hell bent on working your tear ducts, just before the lights are about to come on, it’s simply not fair. I mean it’s not a pretty sight is it, seeing a fully grown man sporting a beard sitting there with tears rolling down his cheeks. Please, Mr.Sreenivasan and Mr.Anthikad, do everything but that.Nah, I’m just messing with you.