This week Onmanorama analyses the climax fight scene from one of the most celebrated movies of Malayalam, Kireedam, for you. Released in 1989, Sibi Malayil's Kireedam became one of the cult Malayalam movies riding on elements like a strong script, quality direction, superb cinematography, perfect editing and some brilliant acting.
Lohithadas conceived the movie with many emotionally packed scenes. One such scene is the fight sequence between Mohanlal's Sethumadhavan and Mohan Raj's Keerikkadan Jose in the climax.
The scene is a class apart from regular climax fights with its blend of various hues of emotions.
It opens with a medium shot of Sethu, who is shown sitting on a rock. Then begins cameraman S Kumar's magic, aptly supported by Johnson's BGM and editor L Bhoominathan.
Camera zooms out revealing to viewers that Sethu is sitting in the middle of a market circled by a crowd, but lost in his own world. The eerie BGM and the camera lock viewers' focus on Sethu.
Sibi Malayil, then begins a game of power play. He introduces the antagonist to the scene giving him all the power symbols - a weapon, a demonic laughter and a larger-than-life stature, while keeping Sethu in the foreground to tell us where the hero is compared to the villain.
Sethu, however, regains his power asking Keerikkadan to stop laughing – a silence follows the stern command. Sethu gets up to claim equality and from then on it is a clash of two equivalent forces.
The fight that follows could match any modern-day stunt sequence with the way it is choreographed. S Kumar is at his best here and Bhoominathan has supported him by deciding to limit the cuts to the extremely demanding places.
For most of the action sequence, Sibi Malayail and Kumar resorted to long and handheld camera movements. The wide frames used allowed them to capture action and reaction in its natural course of time. It also made the sequence extremely dependant on the commitment of actors. Mohanlal and Mohan Raj infused their entire energy in the scene - keen eyes would catch the actors slipping and falling yet continuing with the act.
Lohithadas followed up the action with an emotional punch, handing Mohanlal and Thilakan one of their best scenes. Thilakan's dialogue 'kathi thazheyidada mone...' (son, drop the knife...) became popular beyond generations. The scene was filled with despair, disappointment, anger and anguish of Achuthan Nair and Sethu.
Sibi Malayil and Kumar closed the sequence with an over-the-head shot. In interviews given later, the director revealed that the overcast conditions forced Kumar to settle for the top-angle shot, nevertheless it gave the entire sequence a fitting farewell. Instead of glorifying the elimination of Keerikkadan, the camera movement and Mohanlal's posture tell viewers that the win has only dragged Sethu into the netherworld of his nemesis, distancing him from loved ones.