Theyyam, a popular art form practiced in Northern Malabar, has time and again made its way into Malayalam cinema. ‘Mukalparappu’, starring ‘Thinkalazcha Nishchayam’ fame Sunil Surya, is yet another film that explores this art form in detail, though at heart, the movie discusses exploitation of nature.
The movie helmed by Siby Padiyara is set in the village of Kuruvakunnu, which is home to Theyyam artist Chaathooty Perunavan. Though he has been performing the art form for over 40 years, his son Priyesh (Sunil Surya) is reluctant to carry the tradition forward. However, Priyesh's girlfriend, played by Aparna Janardhanan, is an ardent devotee and wants him to perform at her ancestral home.
Though the movie explores the romantic relationship between the couple, the film soon focuses on the illegal quarrying that takes place in the village.
The threat of small-time quarry owners and the silent games played by corporate companies have been portrayed well, making you ponder over man’s ruthlessness and greed. The director has handled the topic with a lot of maturity and successfully manages to blend two themes, without compromising on either.
The plot is quite innovative and engrossing. The conflict between a father and his son who does not want to confine himself to the tradition of his forefathers is a painful reminder that sacred art forms like Theyyam are dying. The songs by Pramod Sarang and Joji Thomas and the visualisation of Theyyam by Shiji Jayadevan and Nithin K Raj elevate the viewing experience.
Almost all the actors have done a commendable job. Except for the fight scenes, Sunil Surya proves again he is a promising actor. Aparna, who made her debut in the 2018 film ‘Autorsha’ and whose line of work include Telugu movies, has performed well in the film, which also features several real-life Theyyam artists. However, it is the late Mamukkoya who gets to deliver the best line in the movie. He appears as an environmental activist who comes to inaugurate the villagers’ strike. As he delivers his dialogues, one can’t help but remember with fondness the firebrand that Mamukkoya was in real life.
Films like ‘Kaliyattam’ , which is essentially a love saga centered on the Theyyam, are movies that stood the test of time. ‘Mukalparappu’, might not be everyone’s cup of tea, since it is not overly commercial. However, it is definitely a good film with an important message.