– Ravi Kiran
Not many Indian film makers can boast about books being written on them and their films while still alive. A search on Amazon gives you three books in English published in the last six years. That tells us how Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s films have been unique and intriguing, raising questions that are tough to stay away from. But Pinneyum (Once Again), his first film in last eight years, is a huge disappointment.
Adoor Gopalakrishnan is known for his deft handling of human emotions and appreciated for being a keen observer of human relations. At the outset, Pinneyum is all about how greed causes the downfall of a man by breaking his family into pieces. Greed lures a man by showing him the value of gold he could possess if he could obey its commands but cunningly hiding the costs he will have to pay, sometimes the cost being his own dignity.
Purushottaman Pillai (Dileep) has been job-hunting for more than eight years. Had his unemployment been when he was still a bachelor, things would have been a lot more different. Having married early, he now has a six-year old daughter to take care of. And so, when he loses yet another job opportunity, even his wife Devi (Kavya) seems to mock at him. His determination to earn his self-respect back, especially from his wife, sees him landing with a lucrative job of an account in the Middle East. However, this desire turns to greed as he wishes to make quick money and it swiftly launches him into performing an action uncalled-for. Having not fully thought about the consequences of his actions, he slips into a quagmire. Events from then on spiral downwards into an abyss.
More confusion, less conviction
There is no sense of a time frame when the film actually happens causing some confusion. Added to that, there seems to be a distance between the audience and the characters. We don’t feel emotionally invested in any of them. Perhaps, had it been a theatrical play, it would have even worked. But, as a movie, the story falters.
The interview scene at the beginning and the police interrogation scene later seem so artificial and lack the finesse you expect from a film maker like Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Devi is shown as a dignified and self-respecting woman, living a miserable life in silence owing to her husband’s inability to find a suitable job, it is hardly convincing when her change in attitude because of her husband’s new job acts as a fuel to Purushottaman’s greed. The performances by a few, like the lady playing Devi’s sister-in- law and the young girl playing Devi’s grown-up daughter are appalling. There is a huge disconnect between the way they emote and their dialogue delivery. The slow pace of Pinneyum gathers pace towards the end of the first half but sadly, loses its steam midway through second half.
Pinneyum is an exploration of how the human psyche is ultimately affected by greed and as part of the audience it is natural to be greedy and expect more from a film maker like Adoor Gopalakrishnan. A few months ago, in an interview with a leading newspaper, Adoor Gopalakrishnan criticised as to how even the commercially successful Malayalam films of today were only training the audience to watch bad films owing to cinematic elements. One wonders why then has his latest film fails to either entertain or enlighten. Pinneyum, unlike his earlier films, cannot be watched once again.