Film, Malayalam, Review

August Club Since 1969

A wealthy, romantic housewife meets her knight in shining armor at the August Club.

Anyone who has watched all the major classics of World cinema would immediately remember the famous knight character who plays chess and plans his moves, and the lonely housewife who loves poetry and flirts with another man. Such is the essence of August Club Since 1969. Mr ‘writer’ Anantha Padmanabhan (no less  the son of noted filmmaker, late Padmarajan), you pull off material from other people’s works and have it published in your name, first as a novelette and then as a screenplay! What a notable achievement!

Uninhibited in intimacy and displaying the nuances of love and sexual longing, Rima is a case study. And shares a magnetic chemistry with Murali Gopy, who plays her husband. Her failing, however, like all the other chess players in the film, is the ignorance of the game as well as the lack of observation of real-life chess players in action; in other words, the state of total unpreparedness to take on the role of a chess player.

Though hopeless as an actor, as a bragger exuding bad vibes, Praveen is apt. On the dance floor, attempting the flamenco, the duo is graceless. Impeccably dressed in western attire, topped with a beret, the late Thilakan makes a pleasant figure; a soft gentleman, he doesn’t raise his walking stick and thrash a drunkard who insults him, but instead, forgives him, sagely.

The sets have a certain charm, which is heightened by the classical strains and deep bass sounds, the occasional poem recitals in English, and Pratap P Nair’s agreeable lighting in this his cinematographic debut.

Weirdly, the filmmaker assumes that chess players are arrogant, win-obsessed savages. For his kind information: chess players, even the ones on the streets and in the markets, do not repeatedly yell ‘check’ with sadistic pleasure like they are intent on eating the other’s ears; quite to the contrary, they are generically calm and composed, approach the game solemnly with the utmost courteousness, and like the cricketers of the past, are often content with a tame draw.

Further, lightning chess isn’t played at a sleepy summer’s pace; its rules aren’t exactly the same as that of standard chess; and a game in any of the formats, even metaphorically speaking, isn’t finished when the queen falls

And did you really think Mr Debutant Director, KB Venu, that you could place the allegorical protagonist of The Seventh Seal in a badly adapted version of Charulata and get away with it?


Malayalam, Drama, Color

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