Pathonpatham Noottandu review: Siju Wilson, Kayadu Lohar steal the show in this period drama

This Vinayan's directorial talks about the “breast tax”, which was levied by the Kingdom of Travancore on the lower caste women who covered their bosoms.

ByPS Arjun

Published:Sep 08, 2022

Pathombatham Noottandu Poster 1
Inconsistent writing dilutes the core sensitive plot.

Pathonpatham Noottandu (Malayalam)

  • Cast: Siju Wilson, Kayadu Lohar, Anoop Menon, Chemban Vinod Jose, Sudev Nair, Ponam Bajwa and Deepti Sati
  • Director: Vinayan
  • Producer: Gokulam Gopalan
  • Music: Santhosh Narayanan
  • Duration: 2 hours 38 minutes

The story of Pathonpatham Noottandu is based on the customs of the upper castes such as “Aitham” and “Mulakaram”, which were part of the history of the Malayalam-speaking region.

It is a historical drama revolving around the life of Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker, an Ezhava leader who rebelled against the upper classes’ tyranny.

The film discusses casteism and its unethical practices during those times. This is also the story of Nangeli, a woman in the early 19th century from Cherthala, who severed her breasts in protest against the breast tax.

According to local folklore, the Kingdom of Travancore levied the “breast tax” (Mulakkaram in Malayalam) on Nadars, Ezhavars, and other lower-caste communities, until 1859. Women from these lower social classes had to pay the breast tax if they covered their bosoms with upper-body garments.

For those who swoon over Kerala culture in all its empty traditional splendour, this Vinayan’s directorial is a cane of realisation. The Malayalam industry hardly dealt with this subject. For this alone, Vinayan deserves heartfelt applause.

Wilson, Lohar & BGM are the best

Pathonpatham Noottandu Movie Poster

Pathonpatham Noottandu is better than all the period films released recently in Malayalam. (Supplied)

Siju Wilson is outstanding in Pathonpatham Noottandu. I’m surprised by his portrayal of Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker. He gives his best to the role.

Kayadu Lohar overshadows Siju Wilson effortlessly. She plays Nangeli with such intensity that she becomes one of the attractions of the movie.

Interestingly, the filmmaker didn’t try to add heroism to the lead characters, and instead focused on the events, which is rare and hence needs to be lauded.

The background music, which lends the film an enigmatic and melancholic tone, is one of the best features. Scored by Santhosh Narayanan, it is the backbone of the flick and supports the script. Santhosh pours life into emotional scenes.

Shaji Kumar’s choreography is commendable. The sound effects are great.

Inconsistent writing weakens subject

But once you look past Sijo Wilson, Nangeli’s portion, a couple of episodes, and Santhosh Narayanan, there is not much substance in the film. It clearly lacks charm.

The art is average for such a huge subject. The VFX is okay. We can see the budget restrictions of the filmmakers. And the songs come as speed-breakers. The visuals in the songs are poorly constructed, too.

Scenes and events come as if they are being dutiful. Emotional connections and emotional flows go missing. The inconsistency in writing dilutes the core sensitive plot. It is a dull effort for such a powerful subject.

However, I must say, this is Vinayan’s best in many years, and also it is better than all the period movies released recently in Malayalam.

In a nutshell, Pathonpatham Noottandu is worth watching. If nothing else, watch it for the plot that has been ignored for several years, and also for Siju Wilson and Kayadu Lohar.