Language : Malayalam
Director : Lijo Jose Pellissery.
Writers : Hareesh S. (screenplay), Vinoy Thomas (story).
Cast : Chemban Vinod Jose, Vinay Forrt, Jaffer Idukki.
Genre : Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller .
Imdb: Churuli (2021)
Welcome to Churuli, Here
Right becomes wrong
Wrong becomes Right
You’re me and I’m You
We’re all same here
And this is what is called PARADISE.
Calling themselves Anthony (Chemban Vinod Jose) and Shajeevan (Vinay Forrt), two undercover cops trailing a slippery fugitive, enter a hamlet inside a dense forest called Churuli; a place like a spiral maze makes you keep coming back to the same paths. At every turn, they encounter mysterious events that further lead them into new labyrinths. Right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right.
Lijo’s former film ‘Jellikettu’ was an interesting watch and the enthusiasm that kept me waiting before watching the movie was the core story “Maoist” and how Lijo was gonna set it in motion. While reading Vinoy Thomas’s “Kaligeminarile Kuttavalikal”, the same ardor triggered me to tick Churuli in this year’s anticipated movie list. Apart from the main story, there’s a different angle of representation opted by Lijo which shifts both stories to an exotic league.
Anthony and Shajeevan set to Churuli in a rickety jeep snaking through treacherous terrain where the driver and co-travelers seem to be extremely courteous, smiling, and quiet. When the jeep crosses a particularly difficult wooden bridge that separates churuli and the outer world, things start to turn upside down. The brief moments of calmness scattered swiftly to embrace something abysmally vicious.
You never get pleased with the tones of Churuli people, till you discern they are just metaphorizing the civilized society we live in and the deeply dark human psyche. Certain scenes felt exaggerated, which strenuously concentrates on the expletives and some unsavory portions rather than focusing on the core. Churuli forcibly struggles to become offbeat at some points and a few hallucinating portions felt juvenile in making. It is possible to say a lot with such an enthralling expanse of Churuli but Lijo chose to say it with a bit of intentional imprecision.
Besides this, the movie beholds a charm and maintains its suspense and enigma without lagging in places. It floats in a foreboding aura of the land that strives to subsume the viewer. Lijo doesn’t disappoint with the darkness or the mystery which deepens with the course. Of course, it has good moments, humor, politics, and also laced with doses of magical realism.
While it is up to the viewer to decide what to take home. I’m sure it would be criticized and experienced to multiple extents and there will be a lot of discussions and theories showering when it is open for all. From minor roles to the major cast, notably Chemban Vinod Jose, Vinay Forrt, Geethi Sangeetha, Jaffer Idukki, Joju, and Surjit delivered worthy performances.
The graces of Churuli exquisitely shot by Madhu Neelakandan and the delightful auditory treat by Renganaath Ravee and Sreerag Saji is striking which might have faded into the backcloth as you are diverted by the Churuli-people who have chosen the deviant ways of the land.
Each viewer might have a different idea about what makes Churuli unearthly while you end up with answers or you might just get lost in the swirl. Churuli breaks the verge of Malayalam cinema and traverses to new outskirts. The film is better watched first hand in good quality, without any hunch. Be ready to witness something that you have never experienced in a Malayalam cinema before.
Verdict – 4/7 stars.
The film was made under 19 days.
As the COVID-19 pandemic made the re-opening of cinema halls in doubt, Lijo Jose Pellissery had plans of releasing the movie as a virtual reality experience, using a matchbox cinema headset.
He inquired about the technical and commercial feasibility of releasing the movie as a virtual reality movie.
But as 2021 came and restrictions became more relaxed, Churuli had it’s world premiere at the Thiruvananthapuram edition of The 25th International Film Festival of Kerala, at Tagore Theater on 11th February 2021.
Churuli translates to Spiral in English