Had it been more dramatic, festive and loud, Hallelooyah would have been on its way to become a massive hit. But the movie by debutant Sudhi Anna is timidly silent though it had enough ingredients to drum up its arrival. It's a narrative that flows on, connecting a vibrant past to a punctuated present. In the process, it transports us to an age that was pristine and was yet to be swallowed by the so-called advent of modernism.
As the story rolls to a flash back, the difference is obvious and reminds us of how an age, which was not very long ago, had a fast forward leap by technological advances and made the ambiance, props and images of those times look quaint and archaic. Only when we see them do we remember that they ever existed. This can appeal more intensely to those who came to this part of the world between mid-seventies and early eighties.
The objects, the life-style, the culture, even the behaviour of people in that time in the rustic backdrop are realistically re-created. Whether it is the hand-made toy wheels carved out of discarded rubber sandals, kerosene lamp, local games of the time, dressing styles or the dolls in the festival, all of them conform to the time and allow us a glimpse into the past.
The story revolves around Dr. Roy, who is back in his village from France to attend a school function on a special invitation and attempts a nostalgic trip. As he visits places, his wistful past brings him the bitter-sweet memories of the events in his childhood that had changed his life.
Narain as the protagonist Dr. Roy K. Thomas makes a pleasant come back after quite a while. Meghana Raj as Dr. Meera also provides him ample support through her meticulous portrayal of the role. Sudheer Karamana essays the role of Thomas, Roy's father, very brilliantly and K.B. Ganeshkumar too, showcases a sterling performance. However, it's the performance of the child artistes Master Eric Zachariah and Baby Durga Premjith that stand apart. Sajitha Madathil, Sunil Sukhada, Kalabhavan Niyaz, Pashanam Shaji also do justice to their roles.
Of course there are some shortfalls too. For instance, certain crucial moments fail to convince artistically; there is a lack of coherence between some episodes, some comic sequences also fail to crack and so on. Though the film feels dragged at times, the story as a whole is well-knit. Sudhi Anna definitely deserves credit for his sincere attempt to portray a good story without compromising on its simplicity. Cinematography by Ragesh Narayanan and Music by Chandran Ramamangalam are also commendable.
It is a poignant story, which is not spicy and colourful in terms of the cinematic trends in vogue. But if you are nostalgic about the past and do yearn for the days that are lost forever, Hallelooyah, like the eponymous bus in the film, will take you there.
Onmanorama rating: 3/5