Debutant filmmaker Nithin Lukose retells stories of vengeance he had heard from his grandmother through his movie 'Paka: The River of Blood' which had its world premiere recently at the 46th Toronto International Film Festival.
'Paka' is set in Wayanad and is about the never-ending internecine feud between two families for generations and how some avenge each other.
The film has a morbid opening showing Jose, a local man with a long silver moustache, diving into a river to fish out the body of a young man. A small crowd is witness and from their reactions it is evident it is a regular happening in the area and many bodies lay bury in the same river.
Aside the grim reminder, the plot has a Romeo and Juliet kind of love story featuring Johney (Basil Poulose) and Anna (Vinitha Koshy) from the rival families. Their plan to secretly register their marriage is hindered by the unexpected arrival of Kocheppu (Jose Kizhakkan), Johney's uncle, from jail after killing a member of Anna's family. This creates unrest in the area and also leads to a series of murders in both families.
Nithin has gone beyond stereotypes in the film. Unlike the conventional grandmothers who are shown as nurturing and loving, Johney's grandmother, whose face is never shown in the movie, plays the villain. She gives her younger grandson, Paachi (Athul John) a dagger and encourages him to make a kill and fulfil his duty. Even Kocheppu isn't the conventional man we often associate with murderers and jailbirds.
The editing is crisp, making the film engaging. Most of the characters in the movie are people from the local milieu and their performances were as good as the professional actors in the film. Basil Poulose and Jose Kizhappan especially stood out throughout the movie.
'Paka' is refreshing and a very well-crafted piece of art. The shots of murder in this movie are not too gruesome. But Nithin still somehow manages to send chills down one's spine in these scenes making it one of the best revenge dramas in recent times.
'Paka: The River of Blood' was earlier selected for the NFDC Film Bazaar held online this year. There it received the Prasad Lab DI Award & Moviebuff Appreciation Award.