What does a lively music band have to do with land acquisition in a village in Central Kerala? Director Shamal Sulaiman's 'Jackson Bazaar Youth' is quite inventive in that it interestingly interlinks two unlikely aspects.
The story revolves around a retired army man who is a huge music buff. He sets up a band 'Jackson Bazaar Youth' with a bunch of youngsters in the poramboke (Malayalam for Government-owned) land he lives in. His jovial nature and experience make him a favourite among the colony folks.
However, their happiness is shortlived as they face eviction when the government acquires land to develop the National Highway. He and Shankar (Lukman Avaran), a Jackson Bazaar Youth member, are at the forefront of the protests against land acquisition. Jackson is taken into police custody and is tortured.
'Jackson Bazaar Youth' is a story that attempts to explore the emotional side of landless, downtrodden people who face eviction. The film stays clear of politics, but the issue still finds its relevance in a state that has had its fair share of protests against eviction and unfair compensation.
However, the focus shifts to police brutality. There are scenes depicting violence, which are painful, but the filmmaker has approached them sensitively. Jaffer Idukki's performance in each of these scenes proves yet again his ability to portray intense characters of different depths. A recent example is his Maniyan in 'Kooman'.
The movie has its poignant moments but also manages to be funny and quirky. Indran's arrival in the later half of the film adds flavour to the movie. He plays a cop who takes charge as the new station house officer. He is highly unpredictable and sassy, yet mysterious and almost whacky.
His presence feels towering, though he is a man of small stature and that is the depth at which Indrans has played his character.
Those who have watched Lukman at his aggressive best in Khalid Rahman's 'Thallumala', won't be surprised to see him deliver another punch or two in this film, which also has some action. Chinnu Chandni Nair and Abhiram Radhakrishnan also play the roles to perfection.
The theme is quite different and is elevated by the treatment, music and visuals. The overall setting has a stage-play effect, but that does not take away the charm of the film. The screenplay by Usman Marath seems superficial in places but the dialogues and turn of events make the film interesting. There are some loose ends in the movie, especially when Indrans arrives at the scene. Overall, 'Jackson Youth Bazaar' is a good addition to films in Mollywood that are attempting to stand apart with its theme and treatment.