Director: Salim Ahamed
Cast: Mammootty, Sreenivasan, Siddique, Joy Mathew and Jewel Mary
Even though we boast of the legacy of God’s Own Country, the real foundation of the Bitter gourd (Bitter melon) shaped state is built on the foundation of Gulf money. Hence there is an invisible bridge from Kerala to GCC countries. The struggle of Keralites in the Gulf was subject in books and movies in the past and will remain so in the future too. Salim Ahamed’s Pathemari tells the story of those ‘Early Birds’ who had struggled to reach the sands of Dubai, overcoming all adversities.
Pathemaari starts with the narration of the emergence of Gulf countries from ‘Camel to Cadillac’ after the discovery of oil. The youths in Kerala too knitted the dream of reaching those shores to have a taste of prosperity.
Launchi Velayudhan (Siddique) was their man of hope as he helped them to go to Gulf in a Pathemaari (sloop). He always maintained that there is no guarantee of reaching there or coming back alive. Yet Pallikkal Narayanan (Mammootty) and Moideen (Sreenivasan) along with several others were brave enough to take the chance. Lifting their families from extreme poverty was their only mission. Upon reaching Dubai they get only menial jobs and they continue to support their families back home.
Every time when Narayanan plans to come back home permanently some financial burden puts on him and he will be forced to go back again to Dubai. His wife Nalini (Jewel Mary), elder brother Chandran (Joy Mathew) and sisters are used to the fact that he is having a luxurious life in Dubai, until they came to know about the truth.
The subtle story telling in his first film ‘Adaminte Makan Abu’ had won accolades for director Salim Ahamed. But his second outing ‘Kunjananthante Kada’ failed to live up to the expectations. Pathemari, in a way, regains the past glory.
Mollywood has seen films like ‘Garshom’, ‘Gaddama’ and ‘Arabikkatha’ which featured the story of the expatriates. After Najeeb’s struggles in Benyamin’s novel Aadujeevitham (Goat Days), the portrayal of Pallikkal Narayanan is one of the best in this genre in the recent past.
The screenplay struggles a little bit in the beginning to establish the plot. The initial lag ends once Mammootty takes over the helm. At times, scenes are dwarfed by sprinkling over-drama. But fortunately the track is never lost. The superior performance of Mammootty makes the voyage smooth enough. His life on screen as Narayanan is genuine enough. The hues of the character are well immersed in his body language and expressions. Siddique too has done a commendable job. His son Shaheen Siddique makes debut as the elder son of Narayanan.
In the technical side also ‘Pathemari’ has done a good job. Visuals by Madhu Ambat are striking and the sound recording by Resul Pookutty also captures the mood. The usage of ‘Dissolve’ (gradual transition from one image to another) has been done brilliantly. Music is scored by Bijibal. Even though Narayanan falls upon the thorns of life, he never bleeds. Instead he visualises his endurance as his success, the key takeaway from Pathemari.