Majeed,Zuhara and their endearing romance strikes a chord in the hearts of every discerning literary aficionado exposed to Basheer's works.'Balyakalsakhi' is a timeless classic and a cinematic adaptation of the same is at once exciting and unenviable task.Pramod Payyanur the scenarist cum director had his task cut out and though he has not managed to take it to the dizzy heights of cinematic excellence,the movie has its moments.Excellence sprinkled sparingly into liberal ordinariness.
At the outset we see a middle aged Majeed(Mammootty) wandering in the streets of pre-independence Calcutta in search of a job.Unable to put up with his imperious and headstrong landlord father played by Mammootty himself,Majeed runs away seeking to find his identity.His vagabond life takes him to many places and at long last he reaches Calcutta.Tormented by the thoughts of his sweetheart Zuhara whom he left behind,Majeed desperately searches for a job to settle down.He is aided by a hijra played by Seema Biswas and through her he acquaints with a Muslim freedom fighter enacted by Sashikumar.He gets a job as a distributor of books and pamphlets and he settles down there.
The film moves back and forth as Majeed reminisces about his beautiful childhood and romance filled teenage.The child artists that play little Majeed and Zuhara give the movie that much needed spark and their budding romance is the most engaging phase in the movie.Those familiar with Basheerian characters and his literary landscape will find the early parts of the movie adorable.Using his creative liberty the director adds characters from some other Basheer works to give us a feeling that it is an ode to the master writer.
Majeed's circumcision,Zuhara's ear piercing ceremony,their school life etc.take up the lion's share of the initial hour.The contrast in the lives of Majeed and Zuhara which has no bearing on their innocent love for each other and their coming of age amidst the flux in the lives of those around him,'Balyakalasakhi' reverberates with promise at this juncture.Majeed and Zuhara are in a world of their own and their romance is in an ethereal plane.
Basheer's characters tend to become cruel victims in the hands of fate as is evidenced by the plight of Majeed and Zuhara .The lovelorn couple undergoes trials by fire in their lives and though their love for each other remains unadulterated and undiminished,destiny takes them to different shores.The cinematic metamorphosis of this enchanting lovestory is not entirely flawless and especially in the latter half the director loses his reins.Capturing emotions in words and translating them into screen are poles apart which is apparent on many occasions.
Performances form the backbone of the movie.Though this won't go down among his best,Mammootty excels as the father and son.He is particularly good as the father character and there are flashes of brilliance in the manner in which he brings to life variegated emotions.As the lovelorn Majeed he is impressive but a lack of good chemistry with Isha Talwar proves a letdown.Meena is decent as the wife of Majeed's father, while all other actors even in small roles do manage to give a fair account of themselves.Isha Talwar looks extremely gorgeous in a short role that demands nothing from her.
The effort that was taken to give an air of believability to the period the movie is set in has paid off.The movie is a visual treat and Hari Nair's frames add ample charm to the proceedings.Songs by veteran composers including the late Raghavan master are weaved into the narrative without any hitch.'Balyakalasakhi' will not be a let down for the lovers of period cinema, that unfolds at a leisurely pace.Pramod Payyanur has done a fair job of it in his maiden venture.As was expounded in the beginning it was a challenge to film a much loved classic and if in the end analysis the movie appears a tad mundane,it can only be attributed to the impact of the writings of the colossus that the Beypore Sulthan was.