‘Classmates’ Gripping

Cinema is the directors medium. He can make or mar a film. Even the most hackneyed theme becomes presentable if the director knows how to direct.

Director Lal Jose knows his job. Of that there is no dispute. He has proved his credentials with that class film Achanuragatha Veedu.

In Classmates, Jose again shows that having a good script is half the battle won. You add directorial innovation to it, and the result is an efficiently packaged film.

What is praiseworthy about Lal Jose’s feat is that he has come good without the aid of superstars or other essential props that make a film click. To put it in cricket parlance, Jose ‘batted straight’ and came up trumps.

‘Classmates’ is not the first film on campus life. There have been many excellent flicks made on the theme of campus love and life. KG George’s ‘Ulkkadal’, Venu Nagavally’s ‘Sukhamo Devi’, Mohan’s ‘Shalini Ende Koottukaari’ – to mention a few. And who can forget that classic from the Padmarajan-Bharathan duo: ‘Chamaram’?

The cast dominated by young actors like Prithviraj, Indrajeet, Jayasurya, Narein, Kavya Madhavan and newcomer Radhika are highly impressive. Again the credit goes to the director. He knew what he wanted of them, and the youngsters did not let him down.

Retired college professor Iyer (Balachandra Menon) and his professor wife (retired) Lakshmi (Shoba Mohan) organize a get-together of old students to commemorate the memory of their only son and college singer Murali (Narein) who died under mysterious circumstances during his final year.

The students are meeting after 10 years. Group leader Sukumaran (Prithviraj) is now a diamond dealer in Mumbai. He was the leader of the left student party in his college days. Satheesan Kanjikuzhi (Jayasurya) headed Sukumaran’s rival party. He is now an MLA, and his Man Friday Vasu (Vijeesh), his Private Secretary.

Planter’s son Pious George (Indrajeet), the acclaimed Romeo of the college and settled in Gulf, Thara Kurup (Kavya Madhavan), noted dancer and daughter of a Minister and Razia (Radhika) form the rest of the batch. Thara is still in love with Sukumaran.

The get-together almost proves fatal for Sukumaran as he is strangled by the string of a guitar used by singer Murali. Who tried to kill Sukumaran? To find the answer to this and many other questions, see ‘Classmates’, a gripping and well-made movie.

The comedy part has been taken care of by the hostel warden and father Esthappan (Jagathy Sreekumar) and Jayasurya.

Prithviraj as Sukumaran walks away with the acting honours. Prithvi looks every inch a college student falling in love with his college mate. The mannerisms and the body language have been internalized extremely well by Prithvi. The on-screen chemistry between Kavya and Prithviraj has come off quite well, too. Jayasurya is in his elements with his fine sense of timing and punchy one-liners. Indrajeet’s Pious springs a pleasant surprise. Kavya is her usual comely and competent self.

Newcomer Radhika makes her presence felt, especially in the climax. Senior artists Balachandra Menon and Shoba Mohan essay excellent cameo roles.

Melodious music is a must for the success of a campus-oriented film. Composer Alex Paul does not disappoint. The songs are steeped in melody and transport one back to the 80s and 90s.

Rajiv Ravi’s camera reels off frames fraught with the spirit of college life. Scriptwriter James Albert also deserves kudos.

You do not have to field superstars to make a good and entertaining film. Lal Jose proves that in ‘Classmates’.

Eminently watchable.