Dense historical fiction Malayalam movie “Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha” starring Mammootty, Madhavi, Suresh Gopi among others.
The story is set in the 16th century Kerala. Basically its a fight between two brothers, one real and one adopted. Both of them are students of kalaripayatt, an ancient Kerala martial arts form. Both these young kids gain proficiency in that art under their father. Their sister Madhavi is also proficient.
This is where it gets ugly. Gopi despises Mammootty who is a better kalari player than him. M likes the sister, but she is married off to somebody else under a family tradition. Unfortunately the man to whom she is married off is an eunuch. Then there is one girl Chithra who loves M but he does not reciprocate her feelings. She is married off to Gopi so there you are, he lost two girls in a row.
M leaves their household and takes up training under another acclaimed master. There the master’s daughter loves him, but M rejects her as well. In between there is another family dispute on a property matter between two brothers which they resolve to get it sorted out by a kalari duel – duel unto death.
So each unit of family recruits one professional kalari player – Gopi is chosen on one side and M’s new master on the other side. M becomes the seconds of Gopi which is like a betrayal to the new master but M could not do anything because Gopi’s father requests him to do so. Old family ties you see.
Anyway, the duel happens and both kalari players die, both by mistake, one by deceit with the knife used and other accidentally stumbling onto a sword. M is the suspect in both deaths then he escapes to find out who played hookey with the knife. He discovers that the master’s daughter had done that so he goes about to affront her, but she is found hanging.
So there you are M loses three girls, his half brother, his love, family etc. The clan fight has taken a heavy toll. Much like the Godfather of the 16th century. But the story is obviously not over, there is revenge, anger still burning so somebody needs a closure for their grief and redemption.
Overall its a longish movie with a lot of kalari moves which are all quite good. Its a good sport and i hope it gets the recognition it deserves. They got a bunch of awards for this movie. Its a story of love, deceit, cunning, rejection, redemption, anger, revenge all aplenty. Mammootty got the best actor award at the Nationals but i thought it is Madhavi who has acted quite brilliantly in the movie.