Yesterday I watched this new Mlayalam movie : Jacobinte Swargarajyam (Jacob’s Kingdom of Heaven), written and directed by Vineet Sreenivasan, and starring Nivin Pauly. I haven’t felt such a positive vibe in years watching a Malayalam movie. I went to the theatre unprepared, recent hectic work didn’t give me time to read up on it. And I was pleasantly suprised and amazed that Vineet Sreenivasan could create such a nice feel good movie. And the how of it is explained in the end. This whole rags to riches to rags to riches (2nd time) story is based on real life incidents, one of many people who lost money during the financial crisis , and that of a personal friend of Vineet. And I am sure for years to come, this people are going to watch this movie just to get inspired.
For once, Nivin is happy playing Jerry,the eldest son of Jacob, and he watches silently from the sidelines as Jacob (the fantastic Mr Renji Panikker) shows him how to run their business. He talks to Jerry as a friend, and shares his philosphy and hard work, honesty and perseverance is all that one needs to succeed in life. Jerry takes control only in the second half of the movie, where he proves that he too has his father’s business acumen and won’t give up without a fight. Jacob and family live a very comfortable life in Dubai, where he has built his empire of business. He is extremely positive, and is proud of his achievements, and wants his children to become even more successful than him. He helps the poor, and the entire family is god fearing. His family is his everything, and he knows that when he loses everything else, his family will be his only wealth. When a family is so well settled and close to one other, what could go wrong ? And then the movie plays out exactly this scenario. His business contact cheats him of millions of Riyals, and his investors come knocking at the door wanting their money back. Jacob stands ground, and finds a way to make some money, for which he has to leave Dubai. in an very emotional scene ,he asks his eldest son to handle matters till he gets back, and leaves Dubai.
All hell breaks loose. Jacob in stuck in Liberia (I didn’t even know such a country existed). The police arrest Jacob’s wife, and Jerry. Though Jerry knows the business, the establishment is tarnished, everyone knows the company made a huge loss, so no one is ready to do busines with them. Jacob’s second son turns out, is a black sheep,and they have to sell all their properties to generate some funds. Except for very few friends, Jerry has no one to help him. The second half shows how Jerry is able to surf this tide, and slowly win back some business, and in the process, some more time from his investors. There are long voice over scenes, where Jerry recalls his father’s wisdom. Even when he makes money, his mother reminds him that none of this is theirs, it all belongs to their investors.
Even during this dark phase in the movie, there are fun, light hearted scenes and funny dialogues. Vineet inserts himself as another self made rich guy, who is the first to trust Jerry with a small business. Jerry gets a rare opportunity to diversify his business, and gets into travels too. There is another welcome cameo by Aju Varghese. Muthu, the youngest son of the family, is an absolute delight, and a little genius, per his teacher. And of course, the story takes place in Dubai, so there are many many scenes of the beautfiul city. The director intercuts the dark scenes with fun, humour and even a little stunts to keep the movie steady. There is no antagonist per se, but that charachter Murali Menon, looks scary ! He really looks like a baddie who can cause some damage.
In the end, it all ends well. The family’s hard work pays off, they are able to pay back most of the money they owe, and buy sufficient time for the remaining . Jacob is able to return to Kerala, and the whole family gets together. But we already knew this, they were going to get through. The movie is about their journey through hardships, and how they find strengh in each other.
- Casting coup. The entire primary cast, and every other actor are fantastic in their roles. TG Ravi as the driver, Sai Kumar as an uncle. And again, Murali Menon played in such a bad ass way. But special points go to…
- Renji Panikker. He plays a convincing self made successful patriach, the ideal head of the family. So when he falls, you feel his paint. Renji Panikker’s acting turns out better than his screen writing (from yesterdays..)
- Nivin does a superb job playing the eldest son , thrust with all the responsibilites of looking after his family. His humour is still on track, and cries and emotes as well.
- I was never a fan of Sreenath Basi, but turns out , this guy can actually act ! …if the charachter is wrtten for him. His deadpan humour contrasts Nivin’s, and gets to show off his singing skills as well.
- Lakshmi Ramakrishnan plays a caring well doting mom in the first half, and a brave mom in the second half. Even when she scolds, there was laughter in the audience, looks like no one can fight with this one mom.
- The cinematography and backgound music was awesome ! There is nice use of music throughout, lots of piano, strings..that first Onam song was fantastic ! It was nice of them to focus on Onam , even though the entire family is christian. Jomon T John surely knows his craft , and is improving with every movie.
- Vineet Sreenivasan has finally arrived as a capable, and smart director. Most of his movies featured youngsters, but shows finesse telling a family entertainer story. I still feel is a better director than an actor. Maybe he should quit acting fully, because there is surely a shortage of good directors.
- Dubai ! The scenes of the huge city play almost as another characther in the movie. Its only the last scenes which take place in Kerala, and you can finally feel the background shifting from a metopolitan city to green country side. They also satorize the sorry state of Indian roads, and KSRTC buses, an 50 years from now when you watch this movie again, that joke will still work.
Go out and watch this with your family. It could be the best family movie this year.