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Last Updated Thursday December 03 2020 08:18 PM IST

Ee.Ma.Yau movie review: a paean to death

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Ee. Ma. Yau review: a paean to death 'Ee.Ma.Yau' takes you on a spiritual trip for one hour and 55 minutes.

Master of the mundane Lijo Jose Pellissery’s latest outing Ee.Ma.Yau, meaning RIP in Malayalam, is a requiem on celluloid. Starker than reality, colder than death, the narrative takes the viewer through a gamut of dramatic emotions. It gives you food for thought and reasons to cry, yet is anything but a sordid drama.

It’s a classic, a tale of ordinary folk and their less than ordinary lives. It’s a paean to death, the undertones of which unfold in a coastal village.

The drift of the tale begins from a much-awaited funeral. A lone wolf, Vavachan Asari, the local carpenter, is no more. A man who loved talking to himself, he was something of a phenomenon to his son Eeshi who sets about giving finishing touches to a grand funeral his father would any day have died for.

“Do you remember my father’s funeral?" the old carpenter asked his son one day. Death as the movie’s leitmotif is introduced.

“He was buried to the accompaniment of alavattam, venchamaram (ornamental artefacts), a band and what not. You should have heard the Bishop paying his tribute to appan. It was beautiful… anyone would have loved to die thus.” The son remembers what the old man had ached for… a funeral as grand as his father’s, perhaps, grander. He does not disappoint.

Ee.Ma.Yau takes one on a spiritual trip for one hour and 55 minutes. The cause celebre, of course, is the funeral, but the story is not about a funeral. Therein lies the artistic trick of Lijo Jose Pellissery.

The old man’s death is Pellissery’s springboard from where he dives into diverse contemporary socio-political issues, with razor-sharp wit, satire and punchy dialogues.

Suspense hangs over 'Ee.Ma.Yau' release

As the frames move across, there’s that unmistakable flavor of Latin America typical of Pellissery’s oeuvre. Right from Nayakan, to the much-celebrated Amen and to the classic Angamaly Diaries, it’s a new genre the director has been experimenting with. With Ee.Ma.Yau, he has carried Malayalam cinema to a level beyond the ordinary. The narrative is arresting, unseen in the history of recent cinema, holding viewers in thrall with a heady combination of P.F. Mathews’ magically realistic script and Pellissery’s no-holds-barred direction, as profound, as deep as death.

To move back, the son wants the grandest funeral for his father, but lacks the wherewithal for it. But he has to keep his promise. The only resource lies in his wife’s tiny gold chain, apparently, what she wore to her wedding. She’s more than willing to hand it over. The funeral ensemble is ready… the coffin, gloves, shoes, socks, flowers and even the band. But his father cannot be laid to rest. It’s from here that the story takes off, stark in reality, raw in emotion, wild in desires and passion. Ee.Ma.Yau is a heady brew of politics, love, loyalty, craftiness, betrayal and pure evil, portrayed by characters who live their roles.

There’s no hero, for everyone is a hero. To say that Chemban Vinod as Eeshi and Vinodan as Ayyappan blaze out in their brilliance would be an understatement. One has to see them on screen to feel the power of their performance, their best, so far. Kainakari Thankaraj, Dileesh Pothan, Pauly Kannamaly and newcomer Arya have come out with stellar performances.

Shyju Khalid’s camera is the true story teller. It catches the deepest emotions of a son whose grief keeps his eyes full. Every frame… of the sea, the sand and the soul is as disturbing as it is arresting. The visuals are haunting, surreal. You would want to stretch out your hands and touch the people, and feel the rain and the wind blowing against your face.

Complementing the movie in its tone and mode is the music by Prashanth Pillai whose silence is as eloquent as his music.

While Deepu Joseph’s excellent editing deserves special mention, sound editing by Ranganath Ravi heightens the effect of the natural setting. Nature itself assumes the stature of a character with the sound of the howling winds, the roaring sea and the pounding rain staying with you much after the denouement.


The happiest man, however, is PF Mathews, who says this is one movie which does justice to the script.

Though there’s the color and smell of death all through, there’s nothing morbid about the reality of death. In its inevitability lies its reality. Where do we go once life ceases to pulsate? Is death another journey? Are we lone travelers? What’s the truth? What’s the myth? Ee.Ma.Yau makes you think of all these and a lot more.

E.Ma.Yau is a truth, as true as the reality of death.

Rating: 4/5

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