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Review Malayalam

Hasyam review: When dark comedy meets family drama

Release Date: 2019 / 01hr 15min

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Vidyasree Bindu

The film, the latest in Jayaraj's Navarasa series, falls short, however, in the technical department and lacks visual appeal.

Death is a subject that has been explored by many filmmakers. When somebody is able to bring in an element of novelty to such an oft-seen subject, it deserves attention.

Veteran director Jayaraj's Hasyam — a tale of dark humour and death — is the eighth instalment in his Navarasa series, an ambitious endeavour to make films based on each of the nine fundamental emotions theorized by Bharata in the Natyashastra.

Beginning with Karunam (2000), centred on compassion, he went on to make Shantham (2001), Bhibatsa (2002), Adbutham (2006), Veeram (2017), Bhayanakam (2018) and Roudram (2019), themed on tranquillity, disgust, wonder, heroism, horror and fury, respectively.

Hasyam sees Harisree Ashokan play a character nicknamed Japan who supplies corpses to medical colleges for educational purposes. Death is not a sentimental subject for Japan, his wife Kathrina (Sabitha Jayaraj) and their three kids. In fact, they are awaiting the demise of the eldest member of the family, Japan’s father, so that they can rake in the bucks.

Always trying to make money and keep his family happy, Japan is the ideal family man who never spends on himself. He even goes to the extent of getting the thumb impressions of the bedridden on stamp paper to ensure their bodies are donated to medical colleges. In short, he lives in the hope of people dying so that he can keep his family comfortable. However, things don't go as planned.

The 75 minute film has a strong storyline with well-formed characters that any ordinary person can relate to. The characters showcase various shades of the human mind. The cast has delivered remarkable performances with Harisree and Sabitha topping the list. Harisree’s body language, behaviour and mannerisms are mesmerizing.

Jayaraj has beautifully shown the intricacies of the human condition without passing judgement. But while the theme and the concept are good, the movie falls short in the technical department and lacks visual appeal. This is all the more noticeable because the same director was responsible for such visually stunning movies such as Kannaki (2002), 4 The People (2004), Ottaal (2015) and Veeram. The movie is well written and the dialogue delivery is apt. B Ajith Kumar’s editing must be singled out for praise for keeping the tale short and to the point.

In short, Hasyam is a tale of a pragmatic family that is packed with dark humour and questions prevalent notions of good and bad, moral and immoral, and the duality of humour and tragedy.

Hasyam was screened at the 25th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala.


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