Disclaimer: minor spoilers
The cult classic that spawned the potential to deliver a super hit even if it took them 20 years. A film which started a new trend in terms of creating a storyline and was one of the most stylish forms of direction in Malayalam at that time. In Harihar Nagar finds the audience even today.
The movie is about four friends, Mahadevan (Mukesh), Appukuttan (Jagadish), Govindankutty (Siddique) and Thomaskutty (Asokan), who are living in Harihar Nagar in Ernakulam. One day, a young woman named Maya (Geeta Vijayan) moves into a house right next to Mahadevan’s and the four friends stalk her to get to know her better. Maya, on the other hand, is investigating her brother’s Sethu Madhavan’s (Suresh Gopi) suicide and his friendship with Andrews (Sai Kumar). What they weren’t ready for is a meeting with John Honai (Riza Bava) and the crisis which puts them in jeopardy.
If you grew up in the ’90s then you must be aware of the impact this movie created with the style and touch of the ’90s. This is probably the only movie of that genre I enjoyed and mostly it is due to the cultural significance. What takes the cake is the comedy and depiction of friendship. Every single comic situation is of top class without any overacting or dirty joke. My favorite situations include; the scene where Mahadevan his false story about Sethu Madhavan to Maya but Appukuttan cries for real, the scene where Govindankutty goes to impress Maya’s grandmother but ends up in her wrath and, the “horror story” scene. When you analyze from an ethical perspective, the movie has more flaws. People have been disregarding it by saying that it is just a movie and with real life references. Maybe it could be sidelined but, how much impact did these four men have on youth population? Every male gang identifies with the movie with one person similar to Mahadevan, Appukuttan, Govindankutty, and Thomaskutty respectively. In that sense, deeds committed by these men are also normalized. Four of them have just one weakness, women. Anything that attracts women is used as a facet for promoting a certain brand and that is exactly what is done in this movie. Four of them does everything and anything they could to have Maya in their lives, in fact, they were convinced that one of them will marry her! The unethical aspect I can’t help but point out is the scene where they try to peep into the bathroom while she was having a shower. They didn’t succeed and resulted only in a cult comic sequence but then I cringed every time this came up. Peeping into the bathrooms is every woman’s nightmare and thus “drishyam effect”, not to mention the character was killed in that movie. As long as the movie is reduced to a satire comedy, it doesn’t matter but many boys see this as a normal “boys will be boys” phenomenon. Siddique-Lal films always had a proto-feminist elements hidden even if the base theme is “overprotection” or “sister-daughter dilemma”. Maya is a strong independent woman who takes up the case in her hands and is determined to confront those involved in Sethu Madhavan’s suicide herself. She shows that determination several times, liking scolding her grandmother for asking her to leave and visiting Andrews’s mother who is termed as Ammachi (Kaviyoor Ponnamma). As it turns out, she is a victim in the web created by the four friends and John Honai. The best aspect of the movie is the ending where Maya is seen to have forgiven the friends by acknowledging their help and by leaving them a *small* property behind. For this theme, the end is very uplifting as it is visibly shown that the four men rectified their mistakes and didn’t pursue Maya anymore.
The music, the songs “ekandha chandrike” & “unnam marannu”, and the situational comedy have created cultural impact and we see a lot of parodies and memes. Appukuttan’s stupidity, Mahadevan’s brilliance, Thomaskutty’s innocence and Govindankutty’s aggression were remembered in that aspect.Mukesh stole the show with both his comic and serious emotes. The four friends have excellent chemistry in that sense. The only person who was not at par with the overall well-performed cast is Geeta Vijayan. She tries to show how she feels but it is transcended properly and would have looked better if they didn’t many close up shots as her struggle with dialogues and expressions is obvious. The camera work is done differently as more shots are used during conversation scene instead of a single wide shot. I liked the camera work in one of the chase sequences taken at night where the four friends, who were running from the cops, were seen through the police jeep’s headlight. After a turn, they are not visible as the police lost them. It was cleverly done. The torture scenes were also shot well though the sudden shift from comic to suspense genre is felt.The scripting process should have been smoother in that sense.
In Harihar Nagar is an enjoyable film due to the elements of comedy and suspense.
Featured image: youtube.com