Kammara Sambhavam review: An engaging and compelling period film

With his performance, the actor in Dileep holds the audience rapt in attention, writes Deepa Antony.

Kammara Sambhavam is the doing and un-doing of a biopic. It tries to hold a torch-light into the gaping hole between history and myth. With a single sweep it invalidates every history ever written.

Kammaran Nambiar (Dileep), is one of the many who migrated to Amrutha samudram at the foot of Ottanmala in a pre-independence Kerala. His village, swarming with Tamil laborers oppressed by Kelu Nambiar (Murali Gopy), is a boiling pot of pre-independence politics and myth. How and why he navigates himself through the complicated power channels of a rustic, non-descript village forms the crux of the story.

Written by Murali Gopy Kammara Sambhavam attempts to make a socio-political statement. A quote by Napolean Bonaparte, “history is a set of lies agreed upon” flashes across the screen by the end credits and it perfectly sums up the movie.  Conceptually Kammara Sambhavam is a winner. But with a length of over 3 hours of run-time is where it starts faltering.

For a debutant director Rathish Ambat works up the ante in the first half. But as the story gets dreary in the second half the director’s flaws are exposed. But the technically and aesthetically brilliant cinematography, by Sunil KS, and the art direction amply help Rathish Ambat. Gopi Sundar’s background score is brilliant in parts and mediocre in others.

The first half of the film is its heart and soul. After that it’s just over-telling it. Haven’t we all met an elderly who sits us down to tell us their very many adventures? The story starts being interesting. We are engaged- rapt in attention. But sometime into it they just over-tell it and kill the story without even knowing it. This is like one of those narrations. 10-20 minutes into the second half I get what you are trying to tell me. But the movie beats around the bush telling me in vivid detail everything I’ve understood. It’s like force feeding me double servings of a dish that I had enjoyed, but finished eating.

However, Dileep comes out of all this a winner. He plays the real and reel Kammaran with an equal ease and dexterity. There nothing to like about Kammaran. And yet, with his performance the actor in him holds the audience rapt in attention. Siddharth is convincing as Othenan and a sight to behold. His command over Malayalam is slightly shaky, but that’s pardonable as a character that has been abroad for studies. Namitha Pramod gets into her character as far in as she is allowed. However, her character is painfully weak on paper. Infact, all the female characters in Kammara Sambhavan are barely there. They are weak in character and presence.

Where there was scope for more about the women in the story we are left hanging. Kammaran’s sister, played by Divya Prabha, deserved more screen space with her own storyline. Her story just comes to an abrupt halt with no explanation whatsoever. Even Maheswari, who Swetha Menon tries not to turn into this caricature, is written in as a stereotype. In the narrative her character is denied any graph or growth whatsoever. The theme song for her character is all the more unjustified, crass and classless.

Kammara Sambhavan is a definite one-time watch. I wouldn’t blame if you watch the first half and then quit. But the movie does make for an engaging and compelling period film brilliantly laid out in a historic context. The movie weaves in the battle of Imphal, death of Hitler, subsequent defeat of Japan in the World War, and even a lot of Subhash Chandra Bose. So history enthusiasts better catch this one for the history-trip!

reviewed byDeepa Antony

16 Apr 2018 | 08:53 PM

  • directed by
  • Rathish Ambat
  • Written by
  • Murali Gopy
  • Starring
  • Dileep
  • Murali Gopy
  • Siddharth
  • Namitha Pramod
  • Genres
  • Thriller
  • Comedy