Nowhere in the film is the line Sathyam Paranjha Vishwasikkuvo? (Would you believe if I told you the truth?) uttered. Perhaps it’s a thought in the mind of one of the characters, or perhaps it’s alluding to the fact that sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. The characters in the film are aware of a certain ‘truth’, but they land in trouble after one character’s - and scriptwriter Sajeev Pazhoor’s - imagination runs wild.
What happens when a bunch of alcohol addicts discovers an overturned truck loaded with cartons of booze? This is the central premise of director G Prajith’s Sathyam Paranjha Vishwasikkuvo (SPV). But there are also additional conflicts to keep us amused for two hours without getting the urge to check the phone every five minutes.
After Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (TMD) arrived two years ago and set such a high bar, naturally any follow-up from its writer is bound to be accompanied by insanely high expectations. But the weird thing is, not a lot of people were talking about SPV before its release. The inadequate promotions and low hype are odd considering the names of Sajeev (a national award-winning writer), Biju Menon, and Samvrutha Sunil are attached to this film.
Sajeev has stated in recent interviews that he doesn’t want anyone comparing SPV to his former work. Having seen the film, I can say that such comparisons would be unfair. SPV makes it very clear that it’s not trying to replicate the effect of TMD. Though it doesn’t quite attain the gold standard set by that film, it is still a strong, well-written and funny film replete with original ideas.
Biju plays Suni, seen as the leader of a bunch of masons played by Alencier Ley, Sudhi Koppa, and Dinesh Prabhakar. Though these men make 1000 bucks a day, they still struggle to make ends meet due to their negligent behaviour. Because of this, and their inability to not pay back the money they borrowed, they are chided by their wives for not being model husbands or setting a good example for their kids.
Biju is effortlessly excellent as the occasionally likeable Suni. SPV marks another strong entry in his filmography. Samvrutha makes a much welcome and effective comeback as Suni’s wife Geetha. Imagine the plight of a woman who had eloped with a man thinking she made the right choice and then later seeing him turn into a man she wouldn’t want to be seen with. Suni and Geetha are rarely seen going out together. But the interesting thing about her is that no matter what sort of mess her husband lands in, she always has his food ready for him when he gets back.
Aside from the men’s unquenchable thirst for liquor, the film is driven by their tempestuous relationship with women. The women are not kicked out of their homes; the men kick themselves out. Sruthi Jayan, who played the police constable wife of Kichu Tellus’ character in Angamaly Diaries, appears in the film as a fierce streetwalker named Jessy. She is a pivotal character who becomes the source of much confusion in the second half. An additional conflict in the film, in the form of local politicians who try to take advantage of the truck accident, felt unnecessary. The film is strong as it is without needing to bring a third track which doesn’t really go anywhere.
In a time when Malayalam cinema is struggling to produce comedies that don’t come loaded with stale humour or forced feel-good moments, SPV is a rarity that comes along like a breath of fresh air. With just the right amount of humour, it invokes laughs in all the appropriate places. Judging by the response of the women seated next to me in the theatre, the film seems to have accomplished what it set out to do.
The film sometimes shows a talent for having the audience in splits in a couple of unexpected moments. For instance, one of the film’s characters, ‘Thamara’ (Sudhi Koppa), enters a house of mourning and comes out later not knowing who actually passed away. It’s one of the film’s funniest and cleverly underplayed moments. In another scene, the same character invokes laughs with his buffoonery while he and his buddies are busily engaged in a ‘liquor heist’.
Also making small, but impactful, appearances are Saiju Kurup as Kurien, a dubious local man who is not so upstanding as he claims to be—it’s a role that fits Saiju to a T, given his history of playing shady characters who can be funny and creepy at the same time. This year also seems to be a good one for Srikant Murali who, after Luca and Kakshi: Amminipilla, delivers his hat-trick in SPV, as a sympathetic police officer.
The cumulative effect is that of watching one of Sathyan Anthikad’s early classics, like, say, Ponmuttayidunna Tharavu, where a fine balance was established between the comic and serious moments, and there was a strong effort to immerse the viewers into the world of the story with its tactile details.
From the tone established in the film’s early portions, you know that things are going to somehow turn out well for everyone in the end, but not how. As they say, it’s all about the trip, not the destination. There is much fun to be had on this journey. It’s one that, in my book, is worth taking.
Film: Sathyam Paranjha Vishwasikkuvo
Director: G Prajith
Cast: Biju Menon, Samvrutha Sunil, Sruthi Jayan