Monday, 24 February 2014

Aashiq Abu’s Idukki Gold: A good joint but where’s the high?

Idukki Gold is a 2013 Malayalam movie by Aashiq Abu. Idukki Gold has got its moments and is not as bad as some friends warned me — nor is it as good as many promised. Unlike his earlier films Abu seems to have rolled an average joint — using ‘nostalgia’. Idukki Gold's story has a natural flow which is interrupted with arduous background settings for the characters, especially for Antony, played by Babu Antony. The best lines, undoubtedly, are by ‘Mlechan’ Ravi played by Raveendran. There is an effortless flow Raveendran brings to the ‘free-bird’ Ravi. He steals the show, no doubt.
Writers Shyam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair have captured the essence of friendships struck during childhood: No matter how big or small you become in life, you’re always seen as that old friend. The four friends in Idukki Gold are on different planes— financially, socially and geographically — and the only thing that binds them is their memories of school days. That is why when Madan (Maniyanpilla Raju), Michael (Pratap Pothan) and Ravi catch up after decades and gloss over the social niceties of meeting, they go onto doing what they enjoyed the most —smoking-up. Soon, the Czech (and Slovakia) returnee Michael, the just-divorced planter Madan and the unsuccessful photographer Ravi come on to the same plane.
For a movie that is essentially a journey down memory lane, the director makes sure that the cliché of ‘good old days’ is kept aside. There have been many films on ‘memories’ and Idukki Gold could have easily fallen into such a mould. But Abu not only stays away from it, but he also ridicules ‘nostalgia’ at least twice in the movie. Even the character of Sadanandan, played by Ravi Vallathol, who chases Ravi for his wedding album, is a mocking at nostalgia at one level.
The smoking-up scenes are pretty explicit. I was surprised that the censor board’s scissors left it intact and that Idukki Gold came through with a ‘U/A’ certificate. That said, one of my personal favourite scene is the way John (Joy Mathew) describes marijuana grown in Idukki. His coffee-brewing baritone and the equally good camera shots make it really tempting.
The voiceover at the end of the movie, saying that ‘it’s not about drugs but about friendship’ could have been avoided. It comes across as though the filmmakers are justifying their choice of story and its treatment. A ‘message’ is not what one expects in a movie like Idukki Gold. However, there is an amount of boldness on the part of the director for choosing to do a movie like Idukki Gold — it’s not a ‘family entertainer’ (a phrase that has been abused by our film-makers).
You don’t have to roll a joint to understand or enjoy this movie and don’t expect to be floating among the clouds after seeing this. Idukki Gold gives the satisfaction of smoking up but disappoints as you won’t feel ‘high’.

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