Krishnankutty Pani Thudangi, the third directorial outing of Sooraj Tom, has all the elements of a perfect Gothic drama, a genre Malayalam cinema has been missing for long.
Starring Saniya Iyyappan and Vishnu Unnikrishnan, the curiously titled Krishnankutty Pani Thudangi ( Krishnankutty has begun his tricks) tells a tale shrouded in mystery. Right from the beginning, the film pushes you down into a labyrinth, and the more you struggle to get out of it, the more you enjoy.
Set in a mansion amid a sprawling estate, Krishnankutty Pani Thudangi happens in the span of a night. Unnikannan (Vishnu Unnikrishnan), a home nurse, reaches the bungalow to take care of the bedridden patriarch of the house one evening. Beatrice (Saniya Iyyappan), the beautiful young woman who lives in the house, tries to send him back as her parents are not there. Unnikannan but stays back and give us all the signals to suspect his intentions. However, soon he realises that his decision to stay back was wrong. He is in danger!
Much of the film details the spooky experiences Unnikannan encounters in the house which he finds out to be a haunted place. As every minute passes, the mystery surrounding the building and its two residents – the bedridden patriarch and the girl – thicken, giving the audience some chills.
Krishnankutty Pani Thudangi has all the elements of a well-made horror thriller, especially in the first half. The sequences until the plot takes a twist and there's a shift in the genre are arranged so well that they keep you hooked to the seat. Once the nature of the film changes into a revenge drama, it somewhere loses its initial steam.
The film's subtext, which narrates the story of the title character (Krishnankutty), sets the mood of the film. Its folk setting and kathakali theme give the film an eerie charm.
For Saniya and Vishnu, the film offers endless opportunity to perform and they do it with ease. Saniya excels as the strange girl with different shades of emotions while Vishnu once again proves his mettle as an actor who can go beyond typical sidekicks. On the directorial side, Sooraj Tom has succeeded in making a world cut off from the normal and keeping the audience trapped in it throughout. Sooraj has materialised what writer Madhusoodanan Anand imagined.
Jithu Damodar's cinematography adds much to the director's effort. Krishnankutty seems to be an art director's film too. The strange building where the story takes place functions almost like a character in the film. The production design team headed by M Bava deserves credit for that.