[**** stars / *****]
Much like Kerala, its unchanging culture and quiet, comfortable stillness, Premam is a timeless wrap of a sunshine coming-of-age movie.
Once upon a time in a sleepy Kerala village, a 16-year-old boy falls for the school beauty. Only, almost every other teenage boy in the vicinity is crazy for the same girl. Love letters, songs, bright-shirted, sun-glassed flirtations, thrashings follow.
Five years later, the now angry, rebellious, black shirted, lungi-clad bearded student goes soft on his alluring pimple-ridden college teacher.
Cut to nine years later, a subdued high-end bakery owner is whisked away by love again.
How is it?
Love stories with a comic touch have rained down incessantly in the film world, yet writer/director/editor Alphonse Putharen's second film Premam stands out for a fresh approach, endearing life-imitating characters, and assured storytelling.
Deft camerawork, great performances, good dialogues, clever editing, Premam is a rare case of several aspects coming together to make memorable cinema.
Popular Malayalm film culture, Tamil hero-mold touches, innocent flirtations, all converge to form something achingly real and evocative.
You don't have to be a Malayalam film regular to enjoy Premam. But if you are a Keraliate, you will connect more.
Cast and crew
The cast needs special mention, even those with one-line roles lend authenticity. Kudos to the lead players, Nivin Pauly and the female leads, Anupama Parameswaran, Sai Pallavi and Madonna Sebastian.
Applause for Anand C. Chandran's cinematography, Rajesh Murugesan's brilliant celebratory soundtrack to wacky Shabareesh Varma (also supporting cast) lyrics.
As one of the film's songs go in translation - when we look back someday at the life lived, there should be something to laugh at.
Of wasted, love-slippery youth, yet life-affirming, joyous and breezy, Premam is a fun watch.