‘Chappa Kurish’ puts the scanner on the strangeness of reality in a busy city in Kerala, that reeks with life. The title means Heads or tails in local dialects here in Cochin. This wrenching and powerful testament on the politics of power that govern human lives, deals with issues that are real, contemporary and quite complex.
Arjun (Fahadh Fazil) is a dashing young businessman on his way to become a corporate magnate. Living in a swank apartment in Cochin, he likes to see the city move beneath his feet. He is engaged to be married to Ann (Roma), and has an affair on the sly with his secretary Sonia (Remya Nambeeshan). One of their clandestine encounters is recorded on Arjun’s mobile phone as he loves watching replays of his own acts and when Sonia threatens to wreck his marriage, he loses the phone in a scuffle. Where it does land, is before Ansari (Vineeth Sreenivasan), a cleaner boy at a local super market, who quickly grabs it and disappears into the crowd.
Arjun is the kind of man who believes that money has earned him everything possible in the world. His gait is self-assured, perhaps a bit too much at that, and he has selectively ousted lesser individuals from his purview. He is used to having people hop around his fingertips, and is a strategic planner who devises his booming career with as much craftiness and care as his life.
Ansari on the other hand is fast getting used to being jostled at, and has learned that it’s a man-eat-man world out there. He engages in a silent battle every day, with him on one side and the affluent world at the other, where he merely puts up a feeble guard and tries to meekly get away. He never gets to sit on a vacant sit on the bus, is shoved around by the bulky supervisor at the workplace, and gets insulted by all and sundry.
Money is thus the last thing on Anasri’s mind, when he hears Arjun at the other end imploring him to hand him back the phone. For the first time, perhaps in his long and miserable life, he listens to someone talk to him with respect. He is neither aware of the possibilities of a blackmail nor interested in striking up a profitable deal. He is merely fascinated by the voice of a human being, who for a change is eager to take his orders.
It’s a long winding chase that Arjun embarks on, since Ansari soon gets intoxicated by the contentment that he derives from being in charge. The climatic showdown between the two is all the more vicious and bloody, as they literally tear themselves apart, before finally settling down and resignedly going their separate ways.
Thahir’s film has a deliberate thoughtfulness that is evident throughout. The pace is unhurried hence, and Arjun’s breakdown over the given time frame is complete. There are no jerks and jumps in the narrative, and the buildup is terrific. And yet it remains that perhaps ‘Chappa Kurish’ could have made a crisper film with a shorter running time.
There seem to be ideational similarities between Chappa Kurish and the Korean film Handphone (2009) directed by Kim Han-Min. But the director has pumped in some fresh blood into his characters, and planting them meticulously in the local milieu. Despite all the dark shades of life that the film basks itself in, I found the optimism in it absolutely endearing. People in it do not live in their mistakes for their entire lives; they courageously decide to move on.
The riveting performances of the three lead actors in the film see to it that the blows and bangs that it delivers are right on place. We have seen actors reinventing themselves, but Fahadh literally stuns us with a compelling feat that is easily one of the best leading performances that I have seen in recent times.
Vineeth is a perfect foil, and if you feel he lets himself be outshined by Fahadh, you should realize what an amazing actor he is. And of course, there is the gorgeous Remya for whom I hope there is no looking back hereafter. Three brilliant actors of the new generation, who are here to stay. This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning two other names as well; the awesome background score composed by Rex Vijayan and Jomon T John, the man who has workded wonders with his camera. The songs and background scores are in sync with the movie and fits perfectly.
‘Chappa Kurish’ is a simple film that is deeply moving, persistent, and eye-opening that tells a story that is undeniably grim. It’s a brave and genuinely heartfelt directorial effort from a young director, who has clearly won the toss this time around.