Review Malayalam

Poomaram review: Human spirit meets intercollegiate arts championship in a dreary narrative

Release Date: 15 Mar 2018 / Rated: U / 02hr 32min

Cinestaan Rating

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Suparna Thombare

Director Abrid Shine's film has lofty ideas and earnestness, but the path to the inherent message is a monotonous one. 

Abrid Shine's film Poomaram revolves around a prestigious intercollegiate arts championship in Ernakulam, Kerala. The story is set in the the Mahatma Gandhi University Youth Festival, which is held every year. While the film on the surface is about the festival, the underlying theme is that of the futility of war and enlightenment — the understanding that beyond victory and loss is something more crucial to the human spirit — being a better human being and a responsible leader who follows the path of peace.

Maharaja College has been loosing the championship trophy to St. Treesa College for the last five years and they are determined to win back their lost glory. A war wages between the two colleges, with Goutham (Kalidas Jayaram) leading the Maharaja team and Irene George (Neeta Pillai) heading St. Treesa.

Maharajas are placed in the lead towards the end of the competition and their last contest is a mime act (performed brilliantly by the actors) on the story of Maurya dynasty emperor Asoka's who, torn by the deaths of thousands of soldiers during the Kalinga war (which he had won), renounced his throne and took off on a journey to spread the teachings of Gautam Buddha. 

But things go wrong when a fight ensues between students of Maharaja College and some rogue students, leading to the injury of an innocent boy. This puts their last performance in jeopardy as the boys who were to perform the act land up in the police station. 

The protagonist must now choose either to go any lengths to win the war or understand the futility of it and take off on the path to peace. 

Unfortunately, the intercollegiate festival doesn't begin until almost halfway through the film and the screenplay doesn't seem to be moving forward in any way till then. 

And once the festival begins there is an overdose of montages and clips of rehearsals and performances of various contests — from Bharatnatyam, singing, folk dancing to mimickry, poetry writing and many others. Thus, the monotony sets in very quickly. 

Nonetheless, Shine does deserve credit for a very realistic, and almost documentary-like depiction of the festival, making you feel like you are actually a part of the whole atmosphere. 

The detailed and realistic art direction and production design makes up for flaws in the writing department. The stage performances by the entire young cast is also worth praising. But the plot just doesn't have the legs to rise above the oridinary. 

Shine had lofty ideas and earnestness in his writing and direction, but the stillness of the plot and the monotony affects the final result.

Poomaram was screened at the 49th International Film Festival of India on 25 November 2018 in Panaji, Goa.

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