Ongoing: Amazon Prime Video
Director: Lijo Jose Pallisri
Cast: Anthony Verghese, Chambon Vinod Jose
Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards – The category has now been renamed as Best International Feature? Especially given that no Indian film has won this award till date? However, Mother India (1957) lost, by one vote, by veto – only in the second year was the category properly represented?
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Here’s the thing. Most of the big time movie awards in India are popular by nature – that means for that. Yes, there are national awards, which have nothing to do with television ratings. But they are handed over by the government, which in turn makes it political in some ways.
Admission to the Federation Scar is made by a jury of peers, produced by the producer organization Film Federation of India. So it means that choosing a single film from multiple languages / regions is really the best Indian film of the year – at any rate, the best to formally represent India at the Academy Awards. There really is no such thing as the best film – just a favorite film for a particular jury.
It has been assigned to Jallikattu of Lijo Jose Pallisari. Which explains much more important than what Palisery fans are currently arguing among themselves, if it is within the particular director’s own filmgraphy, really – Ee. Ma. You (2018)> Angamali Diaries (2017)> Double Barrel (2015)> Jallikattu (2019)!
An equally important dimension is if this movie, by itself, forces you to wake up and take notes. Sure it does. From the beginning sequence, it goes well ten minutes plus – it involves the characters waking up in a choreographed manner, their eyes and feet in motion, up to the clock, which comes with a beating-like sound on the floor. With some possible ambient notes, when you survey a village in Kerala.
One word on Prashant Pillai’s background score: It’s, for the most part, a capella, it’s pieces of music, without any instruments! Why the sound of this sharp mix? There is no other way to militarily express Kokofani that comes later and continues after that. Jallikattu is basically the same – shooting in chaos or an existing exercise!
To the point that you rarely, if ever, settle on a particular character – fully developed plays in their inner lives, leaving out any kind of comprehensive back-stories. In this deliberate dehumanization, the filmmaker forces you to think of them as human, like human beings.
How is this framed? Like an animal movie. Except man is really an animal. Well, it’s not that there aren’t really any characters. Of course there is. Mainly the butcher, whose buffalo has opened, and will run the gamut. This sets the same series of events – many single-tech sequences – all in these 90-minutes, with this jungle-village to capture that buffalo, creating a mayhem in ordinary men.
How hard is it to catch a buffalo and kill a freakin for God’s sake? There’s a lame hint somewhere why they can’t shoot it easily. This deliberately absurd playoff issue between man and wild in search of strong clarity is missing, where both are one and the same.
Jallikattu is named after a cultural festival in Tamil Nadu, which includes the popular bull as a blood-game. Beef is the top prize in local food in the film. If both are political hot-button issues from controversy on their own topics. But the beauty of Pallisari’s picture (and I’ve read some of his interviews) lies in the fact that he never spells his own allegations. Guess if you have to write or speak something then why make a film?
This, in its essence, is a sensory experience – forcing you to put your feet up, and marvel at the first surrealism. I saw Jallikattu after all the others, with a light note I must wait for the climax! Check it out. As an audience, before checking out any movie, the best thing you can hear is.
Hooks you exactly. Like the star of the show, a buffalo – it’s animatronic; You won’t believe it’s not real – by making Jallikattu, India’s own Jurassic Park, on a serious indie budget! I have been told that Animatronic has been delivered for Rs 20 lakh!
The film is in Malayalam, which delights us in a solo release. Because, Mallu Cinema is ahead of anything coming out of the rest of India at the moment; Including Mumbai. Is this the best choice for sc sc? To say for sure – Chaitanya Tamhane’s disciple – has not seen a few of those against whom he was competing so much. Will Jallikattu break India’s jinx at the academy? Don’t bet on my bottom rupee. It would be ecstatic if he did the course!
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