Alphonse Putharen’s debut Neram, was a film I liked for its taut screenplay and the way it was presented. Yes it had a very simple plot, but the way it all came together was what made it special. I really looked forward to what else the man had in store, and in 2015 came Premam, his next film as a writer, director and editor. After the superb response from both the early birds and the audience, I decided to see if there was something in it for my liking. But that was not before a few of friends telling me that it had shades of Cheran’s Autograph, Ranjith’s Attakathi and Aishwariya Dhanush’s debut film 3. Leaving that aside, I walked into the cinema hall with an open mind.
After an interesting title card which began thanking a lot of well-known characters such as Superstar Rajnikanth, Karthik Subburaj, Vijay Sethupathi to name a few, Premam got off to a decent start. Alphonse Putharen and Nivin Pauly get going right away, with the latter beginning to bowl us over with his innocence. Premam begins to celebrate love in superb fashion, with simple little pleasures which take us down memory lane. Putharen superimposes his tale with small-big things such as a glass of lemon juice, cycle rides, tap-table music, cheap canteen food and what not. Maybe that’s what he intended to do, bring us a film which brings back the memories.
The first segment was more like a bridge to the heart of the film, something which helps you get into the groove. Though neither the dialogues nor the proceedings were something to help you sit up, Putharen compensated by serving us some exquisite visuals and soothing music. At best, this was just a short, straightforward take on adolescent love. About 30 minutes into the film, and this is where Premam transformed into something else. Big, better and beautiful. This film had got me love-struck. Be it the distinguished ‘swag’, the premise, the visuals or the music – everything had slotted into place. This portion of the film had me smiling throughout with the occasional genuine laugh too. The romance was unbelievably realistic, so was the feel which lingered throughout. Putharen never missed an opportunity to introduce the mass factor into the film, with the help of the action sequences, kuthu music or the merely Nivin’s moustache and beard. But the show-stealer here was Sai Pallavi as Malar, truly the fulcrum of the film. This was amusingly the first time when pimples looked good on a girl, as nothing is going to stop you from falling in love with her. She makes everything else in the film look secondary, and at times, that includes Nivin Pauly too. Premam will be remembered for Malar, and vice versa.
The third act of the film is where the complaints come in a box, with the advent of an irritating comic character, a needless song with which the film begins to go wayward. Yet, Putharen flips a nice little twist and a sweet final reveal which will nullify your squirms.
The team has doubtlessly pulled off a casting coup, to say the least. Even the smallest of characters have been carefully selected, right from the three girls to funny-for-a-moment Dolly D Cruz. Nivin Pauly comes up with his career-best performance, he is in swashbuckling form all the way. It is amazing how he can be completely ethereal at one instant, and immediately shift to being the angry young man in the next. All the three girls are brilliant on their own levels, but sans a doubt, it is Sai Pallavi who sweeps you off her feet. I would have loved more of Celine onscreen, but Putharen is a smart man cos he leaves you asking for more. And yes, I couldn’t help but laugh at the very sight of the incredibly dumb Vinay Fort, he was a scream all the way. Albeit just for a scene, Renji Panicker as Nivin’s father brought in the same amount of energy that Nasser had in Neram. The only irritating character I found in the film was the guy on the horse in the third segment, but that’s negligible keeping in mind the amount of entertainment that this film provides.
Premam is a lifelike film with dreamlike visuals. At many places, I doubted if Alphonse Putharen actually is the twin brother of Gautham Menon. Anend C Chandran’s skilful work with the camera was probably the main reason why it felt that way. There was a sense of professionalism all round with the placements and the colours all going right. The cut is an all new level of seamless, Premam is definitely a film where the editing doesn’t feel like the editing. And the fact that the director himself takes care of the scissors, is another feather in his hat. The music is worth a mention too, especially the BGM taking the attention away from the songs which weren’t too good, barring Malarey. However, you got to give it to the sound designers Vishnu Govind and Sree Sankar, who have put their best efforts to provide a surreal experience. The best examples, are the song at the church and the smooth flow of the BGMs in and out of the songs.
Putting it short, Premam is a film on love that you’ll love. The only numbers we should be talking about here, are the number of viewings it deserves. Me, I’m surely watching it again.