WARNING FOR FOODIES: Please carry a tub of your favorite food item before you enter the auditorium. Preferably two tubs. Or more. Depends on your appetite and how much you can resist yourself watching culinary conversations and scenes. Better come eating beef/chicken/mutton/rabbit/pork stew or curry and save some for later as well. Take this warning seriously. Damn seriously! I can’t emphasize more on this.
In the Q & A session, Director Lijo Jose Pellissery stated that Angamaly Diaries was conceptualized in bits and pieces from small, colorful real life stories that he had heard over the years. It feels sure as shooting that narration is driven by the strings of small events laid on steroids.
Audaciously discarding the traditional narrative style, the film feels like reading a graphic novel, with a kinetic urgency, stacked with an abundance of curious characters where every turn of the page embeds a pop culture reference of squashy living in the sordid underbelly of a small town, Angamaly.
Every character has a story and every story is vibrant and arresting. For instance, a gay man, who is beaten in his cosmetics & perfume shop, rides on a bright red scooter to seek help from a local thug. And that local thug serves python’s skin to one of his friends which he stole from the school laboratory. Odd, yet believable and funny.
Or the bomb maker who hugs the tree and makes a bomb, so in case the bomb goes off, his hands will be damaged but not the face & other parts of his body. Or two drunk members of the local “team” accidentally fracture the arm of a dead body while trying to fit the body inside the coffin for cremation.
It has a massive cast that calls for various interwoven storylines, and it is no less than a challenge in itself to sketch so many characters having some substance and flavor of their own. Still, all come together & gel intimately to establish a coming-of-age narration that takes a microscopic look at a few young boys. It’s a story of their desire to make a name for themselves, but not in a conventional manner.
Education is subservient, their idols are rowdies from their area. They take pride in beating up members of opposite team to the pulp. They believe in doing business in the morning, casual chat while drinking in the evening. Moral values are shaky. They would crawl walls to peep inside the bathroom to get a glimpse of a lady taking a shower but hates it when a girlfriend arrives for a date in a sleevless dress.
The lead protagonist – Vincent Pepe, played by debutant (Anthony Varghese) – whose life takes more dramatic turns than the ingredients in his most loved homemade sundry pork. Pepe is a quintessential good boy, he is regular for mass, but he is fascinated by a local rowdy in his area, Babu Ji. Following the footstep of his idol, he builds his own gang soon.
They indulge in fights. Action scenes feel real & rustic with a comedic overtone to it, as they are not choreographed. Lijo Jose Pellissery sets amazing pieces of distinct action sequences one after another. The hilarious one is when Pepe and his team go to beat the shit out of college guys and it is cut by Babu Ji’s entr’acte. He gives a golden tip on how to beat the opponent. The fighting style is unstructured, like the film itself. It is chaotic. You hardly realize who is beating whom when the gang fight erupts in the small balcony. It is such an exhilarating experience that you don’t care about the outcome. And the masterstroke is the inclusion of the background score. The rustic local music coupled with a brass band, the kind of a tune that will compel you to break out for dance.
The fighting style is unstructured, like the film itself. It is chaotic at times. You hardly realize who is beating whom when the gang fight erupts in the small balcony. It is such an exhilarating experience that you don’t care about the outcome. And the masterstroke is the inclusion of the background score. The rustic local music coupled with a brass band, the kind of a tune that will compel you to break out for dance.
Vincent Pepe soon gets embroiled in personal and professional troubles. He is a B.A drop out, and he doesn’t worry about it. In one of the funnier scenes, his girlfriend’s father does not mind his failure in completing his education as he himself could not complete B.A. He casually makes fun of himself and consoles Pepe saying that Curve Pork work is respected in Germany. Pepe had set up the Pork business, the most profitable business in his town, of course, he had to cut a bargain with his old nemesis. We are plunged into the uncertainty of threat to Pepe’s life because of this arrangement.
The moment he attains stability in his romantic life, unforeseen circumstances jeopardize it. He matures as a person with each relationship – just like Nivin Pauly’s George in Premam. Did I tell you that Anthony Verghese has uncanny similarity with Nivin? I had to google if they are related in any way. The blow comes just before the intermission after which his life turns topsy-turvy, and sucks into swirls of revenge, a personal chaos that affects people close to him.
The blow comes just before the intermission after which his life turns topsy-turvy, and sucks into swirls of revenge, a personal chaos that affects people close to him.
Angamaly Diaries is hot ‘n spicy, a delicious fast-food platter that retains the homely taste, cooked with such brilliance that every bite feels sumptuous. It quite smartly handles the emotional pathos of individuals put to test, amidst the rise of crime where uncertainty, love, and loyalty hang by a thread.