The Ernakulam City we know today was a patch of swamp earlier, where many Dalits made a living out of the farm and manual labor. Kammattipadam was a major portion where two best friends grew up watching all the violence and rowdies; Krishnan (Dulquer Salman) and Ganga (Vinayakan). The movie showcases the life of the Dalits who had to suffer at the hands of rich and influential. The rowdies were hired for doing all the violent deed for these people, but the for them, these Dalits are no different from a “rabid” dogs. Kammattipadam is an intense tale that changes your perspective. The film begins with the entry of a mortally injured Krishnan who boards a bus. He recollects his life in Kammattipadam. Men in Kammattipadam are united and they stand up for each other. Krishnan develops feelings for Anitha but she is also shadowed by her cousin Ganga. These boys live their lives in streets, the fights, and at one point Krishnan goes to jail for Ganga. With the urbanization of Kammattipadam, we see the elimination of those stand up for the deprived.
Kammattipadam is a well-written film from a poignant screenplay. The camera work has reached to the point where it focusses on the life and times more than the overall presentation. We get to know the feelings and the narrative style. The film is slow and it is longer than expected and unless you pay full attention to the storytelling, you might be confused as three stages of the character’s lives are shown. Dulquer Salman delivered top rate performance in the two stages, as a twenty-year-old and forty-five year old. His gestures, guilt-ridden looks, and outbursts identify with his core nature. Since the release of the film, the talks were related to the two men who stole the show, Vinayakan and Manikandan Achari. Vinayakan’s comic performance is “chathikkatha chanthu” is adept where he plays “Romeo” who shows Chanthu how to “properly” introduce himself. Vinayakan is spectacular in this movie as an eccentric person who lost everything due to his alcoholic nature and lack of understanding. The circumstances made him what he is and his life is not valued by anyone apart from his father. His wife felt sorry at the last minute and Krishnan who tried to avoid everything related to rowdyism and violence while trying to have a normal life, recognized how Ernakulam city was built using the blood and sweat of those who were born there. He was there when Ganga needed and after hearing the whipping sound at the end of the line. Friendship never dies in the face of dire circumstances. We can’t justify his deeds but still, we feel for this guy who, in a way, wanted to mend his ways. Manikandan Achari was over the top yet effective. He is believable as someone who was the follower of urbanization but he recognizes the love and respect later on. He recognizes Krishnan’s love for Anitha and is determined to unite them both, unlike his brother’s selfish lustful nature. Shaun Romy couldn’t do justice, unlike the major cast members and women, in this film, had less to do. Anitha waited for what she wanted and even listened to the men in her life. Finally, she walks out with a big “I have had enough“. A dark skinned woman is cast in that role and the usual notion of a dark skinned woman is busted as the camera recognized beauty in simplicity. Dulquer is shown as a stylish person but then that was needed of him. The direction style and storytelling is fresh breath after stereotypical love stories and melodramas, although the climax was cliched.
Kammattipadam is a film that you should watch at least once. The movie is discussed and dissected, for the sake of recognizing the humanity and the violence aspect. The characters are neither saints nor are they evil. Circumstances play a major role in shaping a person’s character and destiny. Shaping of the destiny, whether it is the rich or poor, is done finally.