From his first film “Nayakan” itself, director Lijo Jose Pellissery has been experimenting with his films using different techniques of filmmaking that are unfamiliar to the Malayalam audience while staying in the commercial space itself. The zenith of such experiments was “Double Barrel” which was too much for the Malayali audience and flopped big time at the box office. “Angamaly Diaries” is a successful comeback, critically and commercially for the director.
“Angamaly Diaries” explores the culture of the Angamaly town through the small time local gangs of the area. Vincent Pepe (Antony Varghese) a youngster from Angamaly who grew up idolizing the local goon Babuji (Anson Antony) turns into one after the murder of Babuji. Pepe and gang who wanted revenge against the perpetrators Appani Ravi (Sarath Kumar) and U-Clamp Rajan (Tito Wilson) cools down after some time. Pepe and friends decide to start a pork meat business and it becomes a success before the gang runs into trouble again. Through flashbacks, Pepe’s first love affair is shown which comes to an end after some time. Pepe’s ongoing relationship with Sakhi (Binny Rinky Benjamin) doesn’t look much hopeful and his neighbour Lichi (Reshma Rajan) tries to help with the situation who is taking more than enough interest in his life.
From the title credits itself, the relationship of Angamaly town with food items, especially that which are made using pork meat is made evident. As our protagonist, Vincent Pepe narrates his life and the life in Angamaly, different kinds of pork meals are used as a motif to juxtapose the diverse scenarios. The important status of pork items for Angamaly townsfolk is made clear from the beginning itself and the life cycle of pigs are also shown to juxtapose with the lives of the violent men around them. “Angamaly Diaries” delves into how and why these local gangs are formed and the rivalries come into place for no apparent reason other than toxic masculine ego and the disregard for authorities to an extent. As the film progresses, we see that the characters are not of the type to serve revenge cold, but acts in accordance with the passion of the moment only and are ready to forget the past for a better future. Whatever acts they do, ultimately they are ordinary people who want a peaceful life, however, their pride mostly becomes an obstacle to that goal.
“Angamaly Diaries” features 86 debutant actors in all the major roles and yet Pellissery’s control over his actors is evident on how every one of them did their part perfectly. Antony Varghese who played Pepe was able to carry the film forward, but it was Sarath Kumar and Tito Wilson, who played his rivals and outshined him to become the most promising actors of the lot.
Actor turned screenwriter Chemban Vinod Jose’s first-time script has a clear understanding of how life in Angamaly should be portrayed and is perfect for the style of Pellissery. The approach akin to kitchen sink realism gave a grounded sense, nevertheless, the elements giving the adrenaline rush worked well too.
The climactic sequence is one which shows the talent of Lijo Jose Pellissery and cinematographer Girish Gangadharan. Amongst the crowd of around 1000 extras at the Angamaly church festival celebration, a single eleven-minute long take is shot featuring more than 20 of the characters to a conclusion that is hard to look and look away at the same time.
Although the plot isn’t particularly new in any way, the approach in the script and direction make it look fresh. The extraordinary performance of all the debutant actors and the local flavour of Angamaly makes “Angamaly Diaries” a very entertaining ride.