Easily the best film I have seen in a long time, Angamaly Diaries is a raw, visceral experience like none other. A unique voice telling you a tale in his own way, Lijo Jose Pelissery succeeds in sucking you into the dynamic, dirty, deliciously dangerous world of Angamaly. The title sequence teleports you there with its sights, sounds and (most importantly) delicacies. And you stay there even after you leave the theater.
Lijo peppers the film with copious amounts of violence, buffoonery and pork! While the movie has a plethora of characters but you experience the on-goings from the perspective of our protagonist Vincent Pepe. Pepe starts us off by telling us how at a very young age, he got fascinated by a small time gangster called Babuji and joined his ‘Team’!
Tragically, Babuji gets killed off by a rival gang and Pepe’s team gets a new leader. Time goes by and his Team gets embroiled in one fist fight after another. They also change businesses from running a Cable Business to Selling Pork to holding illegal gambling sessions. His life is all fun and games, till he accidently kills a rival gang member with a home-made bomb! Will he get out of this mess? Or will the rivals make him pay? That’s for you to find out.
While the story isn’t particularly tightly knit, what is utterly fascinating is the screenplay. Lijo has enough footage to make 5 films and the editor weaves magic with it all. Colourful montages, bolstered with crackling dialogues and outstanding background music, keep you hooked. The characters are wacky, their names catchy ( from 10 ml to U-Clamp) and their behavior entertaining. But what is truly as world class as the combo of tapioca and pork, is the camerawork and the direction!
2 set pieces – 1 action sequence just before the intermission and an 11 minute single-shot finale sequence with 1000 artists – will keep you dumbfounded. Considering the film has 86 debutant actors ( as per Wikipedia) its surprising that the level of acting is so good. Sarath Kumar as Ravi and Anthony Vargese as Vincent Pepe stand out, but it is purely because they play the most important characters.
So grab whatever opportunity you get to watch this movie. I know most of you would need subtitles, but its worth it. After a while, you get so immersed in the film that you forget you are reading the translation. Watch it and if you are a non-vegetarian, make sure you sit with a lot of food, because Lijo makes you drool with the most amazing looking delicacies from Angamaly in almost every scene!
Rating: 7.5/10 – For a low budget indie, this is an absolutely masterpiece and shows what you can achieve when technique meets talent.