"Iyobinte Pusthakam" starring Fahadh Faasil and Lal in the lead is a typical Amal Neerad movie with excellent formal qualities. The film set in Munnar tells the story of love, romance, betrayal, hatred, revenge, feudal fights and bloodshed in the backdrop of Second World War.
The story revolves around Iyob and his three sons, Dimitri (Chemban Vinod), Ivan (Jinu Joseph) and Aloshy (Fahadh Faasil).
The movie begins with a narration of Iyob's life since British started conquering the hills of Munnar. Iyob, who one of the slaves of British lord Mr. Harrison (Sal Yusuf), soon becomes the most trusted servant.
Harrisson, who is separated from his wife gets enticed with Kazhali (Lena), a tribal woman from Nilgiris who was apparently ousted from her tribe for performing Black magic. Soon Kazhali gains the status of the mistress.
As the First World War breaks out, the lord faces trouble in his tea export business. He leaves pregnant Kazhali to recover the money that is stuck in England, but fate has other plans. Harry on his way back from England to Kochi suffers a heart attack and passes away. Iyob takes this as a chance and throws out pregnant Kazhali from their home and property, which leaves Kazhali to raise her only daughter Martha (Isha Sharwani) alone.
Iyob soon raises himself as the landlord and soon the lord of Munnar. In the growing years of Iyob's children, Aloshy is identified as different from his ruthless brothers. The young Aloshy soon flees home and reaches Kochi and as he grows up join Indian British Army for many of their wars.
After staying away from home for years, he finds out that things at home haven't really changed much and have in fact turned worse. He goes back home to take his love Martha to Kochi, but faces objections from his family. What follows is the story of sibling rivalry, which turns out to be the most unfortunate incident in each character's life.
The most noticeable aspect of the movie is the detailing of each character. Like other Amal Neerad movies, "Iyobinte Pusthakam" too offers a visual treat. Each frame, movements and angles used in the movie is a delight to watch. The warm color tones and textures add grandeur to the visuals.
Another noticeable aspect of the movie is the background score and the music of the film by Neha S Nair and Yakzan Gary Pereira. There were even sequences where the background score lifted the mood of the movie and theme songs for each character were also pleasing enough.
A special mention has to be given to costume designer Sameera Saneesh and makeup artist Manoj Angamally for giving life to each character and to Art Director Sabu Mohan for bringing back an era of beauty, grandeur and struggle.
Coming to the casting of the movie, Fahadh Faasil steals the limelight with his charming looks and body language in the role of Aloshy. Though he doesn't have many dialogues in the movie unlike the usual lead role, Fahadh gives out a stellar performance of a man with high quotient romance and revolutionary thoughts.
Jaysurya also gives a stunning performance in the role of shrewd villainous character of a Tamil businessman Angoor Rawther. The actor, in fact gives a new dimension to the iniquitous role with his excellent dialogue delivery and style and this role can be referred to as his career best.
Lal's performance as Iyob also confirms that his director's choice was not left in vain. Chemban Vinod and Jinu Joseph have opened new a phase of their career with their negative role. Vinayakan again assures that he is here to stay for more performance based role. Other actors like Isha Sharwani, Padmapriya, Reenu Mathews, Srrejith Ravi, TG Ravi, Shebin Benson, Saritha Kuku have also done their parts well. The guest appearance of Aashiq Abu and Amala Paul is also a delight to watch.
From the directorial point of view, "Iyobinte Pusthakam" has all the elements of an entertainer in bits and pieces, but what is missing is the connecting factors of these elements. You might have a better cinematic experience if the movie is dissected scene by scene as the film lacks an overall feel.
Another negative aspect of the movie was the heavy lag that is felt throughout the movie. It looked like the characters were taking their own time to get in synch with the situations around them, which affected the pace of scenes.
Though "Iyobinte Pusthakam" offers a film with all the entertaining aspects, it fails to leave a mark on the audience in terms of the storyline and script. However, Amal Neerad's new movie is an excellent example of a movie with technical excellence.