This Malayalam film Swathanthryam ArdhaRathryil doesn’t come out of the blue, it draws inspirations from The Great Escape (1963) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Last year, two (not even) mediocre Bollywood films were based on the similar type of jailbreak genres. This genre is somewhat unexplored in the Malayalam Cinema which makes this film important along with the fact, it has many cast and crew members of the cult Angamaly Diaries (2017).
As the title translates: Freedom at Midnight, the plot revolves around Jacob (Antony Varghese) who is nabbed by the Kottayam Police who a murder, he hatches an escape plan with his jail inmates. With a smart plan, even though such jailbreaks often have to undergo loopholes for its escape – we’re never taken for granted. The flaws are suppressed by various film-making factors. The crystal clear story is weaved brilliantly with humour and thrills, just look out for the nuanced performances. While the first half sets the mood, the second half comes with a groove – even though predictable, Director Tinu Pappachan makes us feel like its a new story. It does have commercial elements but the rustic and raw treatment which makes the film realistic in its approach is handled well. Writer Dileep Kurian has built up a neat story with essentials, but his strongest aspect is the character writing. Every character has its own dimension and a bit of an arc, which provides time and space for the development.
Director Tinu Pappachan is evidently influenced by Lijo Jose Pellissery’s (Director of Angamaly Diaries) style of film-making. Here, the film-making aspect provides a full throttle to the world of escape. Girish Gangadharan’s striking Cinematography is a prominent feature which immediately holds us. His lenses absorbs the rustic emotions with natural lighting and experimental angles provide cinematic delicacy – major takeaway is the stylised visuals. He sets an emotional scene through an extreme close-up of the eyeballs, the point-of-view done on point. With the drum beats, making us pound our hearts with regard to the misery of the characters, Deepak Alexander’s BGM proves thrilling.
And the most interesting part, the acting department. While the credit also goes to writer Dileep Kurian who hatches interesting characters and it’s accomplished by strong commanding set of actors. Antony Varghese’s (second outing) amazing screen presence with terrific acting deserves an applause. Chemban Vinod Jose and Vinayakan deliver exceptionally nuanced performances. And there’s no one better than Vinayakan doing great with character roles.
Swathanthryam ArdhaRathriyil completely works on the thrill factors provided with exceptional film-making and performances. Altogether, it passionately proves thrills with cinematic satisfaction.
*There’s a unique factor guiding Malayalam Cinema – the passionately film-making with brilliant scripts. Try watching last year’s Lucknow Central and Qaidi Band or even the 2004 film Deewar: Let’s Bring Our Heroes Back, you’ll know the difference.
Release: 31 March, 2018 | 20 April, 2018 (Outside Kerala)
Director: Tinu Pappachan
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