A brave new voice among the new generation of Indian filmmakers, Lijo Jose Pellissery, who works in the Malayalam film industry, is known for stretching the limits of mainstream cinema with Indian-style dark humour that is abound with death, crime and religion. His 2019 action thriller Jallikattu was selected as India’s entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.
We pick five films by Pellissery, who will be celebrating his 44th birthday tomorrow (September 18), which showcase his range and mastery over the medium.
Starring Fadadh Faasil and Indrajith Sukumaran, Pellissery’s 2013 musical romcom Amen will transport you to a new realm with its unique storytelling. Prashant Pillai’s soothing background score is used as a storytelling device in the film, which touches upon the influence of religion and culture in the quest of love.
The film shows how Solomon (Fahadh), an unsuccessful clarinet player and member of a defunct band, falls in love with the only daughter of a dirty businessman and tries to overcome every obstacle that comes his way. He must put together his old band once again and win a prestigious music competition in order to be united with his love. Solomon finds an unlikely ally in the form of Father Vincent Vattolli (Indrajith).
Double Barrel (2015)
Double Barrel is Pelliserry’s attempt to create a unique mass entertainer that would be high on wackiness and style. It is a fanatic, absurdist gangster parody, starring Prithviraj and Indrajith Sukumaran in the lead roles.
Set is a mysterious coastal town that resembles Goa, the film revolves around two precious gems that are deemed valuable only if they are together. Rival gangs try to employ two local thugs — Pancho (played by Prithviraj) and Vinci (played by Indrajith) — to buy the gems from a local don. However, when they double-cross the gangs, a full-blown gang war begins. The unapologetic over-the-top parody is a nod to the works of Hollywood director Guy Ritchie.
Angamaly Diaries (2017)
Foul language and rowdy sequences are usually symptomatic of crime movies. But Pellissery challenges the conventions of this genre by introducing romance and comedy to its plot even amid all the customary violence.
Set in the small town of Angamaly, the movie revolves around Vincent Pepe (played by Antony Varghese), who is impressed by the power of local gangs-cum-football teams and is determined to form his own ‘team’. He eventually forms a team that gets involved in several skirmishes with other local gangs. Trouble begins when Pepe accidentally kills a person during one such fight. Now Pepe and his gang have to make strategic alliances to stay safe.
Ee.Ma.Yau (Rest in Peace) sheds light on the grim topic of death through comedy. Pellissery and writer P. F. Mathews designed the film in a way that is virtually impossible not to be moved by the sheer humanity of the film and its characters.
The film revolves around the death of Vavachan Mesthiri (played by Kainakari Thankaraj), the patriarch of a lower-middle-class family of fishermen, in the picturesque coastal village of Chellanam. It explores the comedy of errors that follows when the family members, led by Vavachan’s elder son Eeshi (played by Chemban Vinod Jose), try to give Vavachan a grand send-off.
After his acclaimed action thriller Jallikattu, Pellissery moved to explore science fiction horror with Churuli. Pellissery, which combines elements of action, horror, humour and sci-fi.
Based on the short story Kaligeminarile Kuttavalikal by Vinoy Thomas, Churuli chronicles the tale of two undercover police officers who search for a wanted criminal known as Mayiladumparambil Joy. The officers, played by Vinay Forrt and Chemban Vinod Jose, are in different phases of their careers. They arrive at a mysterious village called Churuli and find themselves stuck there as eerie events unfold before them.