Bheeshma Parvam marks 15 years since Amal Neerad reunited with Mammootty as the lead ever since his debut Big B. Now hailed as one of the game-changing Malayalam cinema has to offer, while it wasn't a huge box office hit it still attained cult classic status ever since its release.
But Bheeshma Parvam has a lot of things at stake; be it Mammootty's crowd pull for a solid commercial entertainer and Amal Neerad's otherwise spotty filmography. But those concerns are put to rest as it delivers exactly what audiences have been hoping for and dare I say it recreates the magic they've originally brought upon when they worked together 15 years ago.
The plot revolves around the Anjooti family headed by the patriarch Michael (played by Mammootty) who had dealt with a fair share of violence in the past, has now resorted to the role of a Godfather-like figure. But with some of his decisions irking the younger members of the family who believe he's dictating their lives, they hatch a plan to bring him down by joining forces with foes from his past. What follows is what forms the rest of the film.
Bheeshma Parvam has a bit of a curse and a blessing situation when it comes to its screenplay as some may find the story too predictable with many narrative beats are inspired by The Godfather and Mahabharata.
But, Amal Neerad uses the plot as less of a star vehicle rather he treats it as a loving tribute. He doesn't shy away from those influences, in fact, he wears those like the beating heart in his sleeve (The opening thanks credit mentions Coppola, Veda Vyasa, Mani Ratnam, and Ram Gopal Varma).
It also helps that the way the story is told is impeccably mounted with an impressive production design, which invokes the period in Kochi in the late 80s. Be it the Varkey's supermarkets, Modern Bread packet, soft drinks like Gold Spot, and of course the 84 Toyota Land Cruiser which Michael drives. We see a different Kochi here as if we're witnessing the birth of urbanization that we're now familiar with.
Even the cinematography is impressive, Anend C Chandran stages conversations with unorthodox framing devices and use of lighting in key scenes where you see two characters talking to each other but we see mirror reflections of them in the same frame. Or the way he shoots the action set-pieces here; The warehouse scene is easily the most whistle-worthy scene you'll come across but the parking lot knife fight scene has more tension and stakes with a killer punchline said by Michael before fight commences.
The same can be said about Sushin Shyam's killer soundtrack. The opening track played during the credits is catchy as well as the one where Michael and his nephews enter the warehouse to save a relative gives you chills. Even the songs serve a purpose with the beautifully choreographed Parudeesa.
While Mammootty is in-form as the gruff yet wise Michael, the movie does respect its ensemble cast supporting his character, thankfully avoiding a major problem many star vehicles face by not utilizing great character actors within the movie.
For me, Soubin Shahir and Shine Tom Chacko shine in their respective performances as Ajas and Peter. Sreenath Bhasi is immensely likable as well as the late actors Nedumudi Venu and KPAC Lalitha give in chilling performances as an elderly couple vying for blood and revenge.
Almost all of the ensemble cast serve a purpose and they never end up forgettable. Be it Anasuya Bharadwaj's character as Alice, you could argue she could be cut off from the story but with her expressions whenever she's reminded of her past with Michael, you couldn't help but want to know more about how they used to be and why she still yearns for him despite his promise given to his father.
But it is Amal Neerad who gives his all in this movie. His impeccable use of slow motion, brilliant staging in terms of dialogue, action, and even dance sequences show how far he's come, and yet he never abandoned his roots either.
This is also his first time as a writer along with Devadath Shaji, and while he plays safe in the narrative front, his sure-handed direction ensured us why he just might be one of the rare directors in Malayalam cinema to handle a mass movie with class with such ease.
After all, Amal Neerad ad Mammootty needed this but now that this is a huge hit at the box office, one might remember Bheeshma Parvam was a last-minute announcement as their upcoming Big B sequel titled Bilal is on hold. Being excited about it could be an understatement thanks to Bheeshma Parvam now.