Ajagajantharam: Immaculately staged depiction of unchecked fury

Like his mentor Lijo Jose Pellissery, Tinu proves once again that he is one of the few filmmakers in Malayalam cinema right now supremely adept at staging chaos

Published: 24th December 2021 08:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th December 2021 08:26 AM   |  A+A-

Poster of the movie Ajagajantharam.

First look poster from the movie Ajagajantharam. (Photo | Arjun Kallingal)

Express News Service

When the film opens with a bus carrying theatre performers arriving on the temple grounds, the stage is set not for a Yavanika-type scenario but something heavily reliant on atmosphere than story and character development. Some may lament the latter’s absence, but if you don’t mind getting your kicks from the former, you will find enough to appreciate in Tinu Pappachan’s second feature Ajagajantharam.

Like his mentor Lijo Jose Pellissery, Tinu proves once again that he is one of the few filmmakers in Malayalam cinema right now supremely adept at staging chaos. (I’m hoping he makes a big-scale war epic at some point in his career because I’m sure he would do well at it.) In multiple moments, my awestruck self wondered how he coordinated not only such a large group of people but also the tremendous amount of background and foreground detailing. 

Ajagajantharam is, to put it simply, a riotous display of unchecked aggression and unbridled chaos. It doesn’t require one to feel emotionally attached to any particular character. We are only required to be invested in the mayhem caused by a bunch of man-children with brittle egos. But, if one were to pick a side to root for, regardless of your disagreement with the way he generally conducts himself, it has to be Antony Varghese’s character whose name I can’t recall right now because this is that film where you remember the faces more than the names. Nothing wrong with that. 

Since it would be tiring to focus solely on two groups fighting for most of the runtime, the screenplay is clever to divide our attention between Rajesh Sharma’s theatre group, the antics of an elusive criminal (Sabumon Abdusamad), the ‘elephant’s people’ (Antony Varghese, Kichu Tellus, and Sinoj Varghese), and the opposing force comprising Arjun Ashokan, Sudhi Koppa and Vineeth Vishwam. One of these characters soon realises that his peace-loving nature wouldn’t help when things get out of hand. When it does, he is compelled to get involved after a painful pre-intermission ordeal. 

But not all of Ajagajantharam is serious. It manages to find enough space for comical scenarios, among which are a post-wedding fight that got the maximum laughs, Rajesh’s attempts to find a replacement actor for a role, and the after-effects of the police’s surprise at discovering that an infamous criminal is at hand’s reach. And it’s not just the staging of it that brings forth the humour. 

Justin Varghese applies the appropriate score in each situation — big or small, funny or serious. Ajagajantharam is yet another testament to the genius of the composer who last wowed audiences with his work in Joji. 

We also get to see the remarkable talents of a newbie cinematographer Jinto George, who, at times, makes the entire film appear like someone’s psychedelic dream. We also get some neatly done sequences like a gang on grassy terrain looking for their nemesis with torchlights when the entire area is plunged into darkness. Stunt choreographer Supreme Sundar also chips in with a fair share of adrenaline-pumping fight sequences. The most exhilarating one shows up in the third act when Antony and Kichu attempt to get through exploding firecrackers and armed thugs. It’s a cracker, literally and figuratively.

There are places where we find various filmmaking departments — editing, sound, cinematography, and stunt choreography, especially — in perfect sync. And because it plays out like Angamaly Diaries on acid, your appreciation of Ajagajantharam would also depend on the degree of loudness you can tolerate because it gets sufficiently loud post-intermission. But it has not been done for loudness’ sake. 

And because it features most of the same actors from AD, it can also feel like watching the third part of a trilogy that began with AD, followed by Swathandryam Ardharathriyil. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone finds this familiarity or its overall wildness off-putting. I left the theatre feeling quite satisfied. 

Film: Ajagajantharam
Director: Tinu Pappachan
Cast: Antony Varghese, Kichu Tellus, Arjun Ashokan, Rajesh Sharma

Rating: 3.5/5


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