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Timeless love

Balyakalasakhi is a cinematic tribute to the epic literary work by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, one of Kerala’s finest writers, Deepa Gauri writes

By Deepa Gauri

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Published: Sat 22 Mar 2014, 12:54 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:12 PM

Mammootty and Isha Talwar in Balyakalasakhi

Whether the cinematic adaptation of Vaikom Muhammad Basheer’s Balyakalasakhi, starring Mammootty and Isha Talwar, lives up to the hype it had generated in the production stage is a point still being debated by critics, although the film continues to perform rather well at the box office.

Enthused by the response, Pramod Payyannur, who makes his feature film debut as director, is now preparing a re-release of the film with 15 minutes of added content. He says the 15 minutes were edited out initially to maintain the tempo of the film.

With family audiences responding well to the film, he is now encouraged to release the film again with the new scenes, so as to encourage repeat viewers.

Critics, however, have been largely divided about the film’s effectiveness. Most of them had panned the choice of Mammootty to play the middle-aged Majeed, the protagonist in the novel that continues to be a referral point in Malayalam literature.

They have been unequivocal, though, about the brilliant performance of the actor as Majeed’s father, reminiscent, they say, in parts of the award-winning performance by Mammootty in Paleri Manickyam.

A captivating, timeless love story, Balyakalasakhi spreads over several time and place zones giving a rich visual texture to the film. Parts of the film were shot in Kolkata as well as in the picturesque Perumbalam island near Alappuzha. Balyakalasakhi is the story of two childhood sweethearts, Majeed and his neighbour Suhra. Following a tiff with his father, who refuses to acknowledge their love, Majeed leaves his home and sets off on a journey that takes him to distant lands and new ideologies as he meets some fascinating characters.

The novel brims with life with the rustic simplicity of Basheer’s writing continuing to enthrall new readers as well as those who revisit the novel to discover that the magic of the Majeed-Suhra romance remains as compelling as ever. For Pramod, the film is a dream come true, having already established his name in theatre and television. On the casting, he says that only Mammootty – who has earlier played Basheer on-screen in another award-winning performance in Mathilukal – could have done justice to the role. Balyakalasakhi is playing at theatres in the UAE now.

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