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Malyalam movie 'God's own country': A review
The world as we know it is becoming increasingly polarized by the day - in religious, economic, ethnic and political terms. But the most significant polarization - globally- is happening in the economic sphere between the haves and the have-nots, as wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of a privileged few while the majority struggle to make ends meet.

Rumblings of discontent have already been heard in many pockets of the developed as well as developing worlds. The time seems ripe for yet another revolution, one might assume. But there is another kind of revolution that can transform the world, too, in a healing rather than lacerating way. It takes place in the human heart when a sudden connection is made between two people who belong to different parts of the world coming together. It is of such heart-warming connections that the Malayalam movie, "God's own country" speaks off.

The events of the film unfold over a day. A young NRI businessman lands in Kerala with his infant daughter, to finalize a crucial hawala deal. For the ruthless and sleazy politician, Vakkachan (Nandu), it is a make or break day as he faces arrest and political exile due to his involvement in the gang rape of a minor. Advocate Mathen Tharakan (Srinivasan) is the public prosecutor handling the case. He has a trump card up his sleeve - a key witness -- but Nandu is unaware of it. But the problem is getting the witness safely to the court to depose.

Two of Nandu's henchmen are closely trailing him as they suspect that he is up to something. It is a cat and mouse game that has many thrilling moments. Meanwhile, there is Mohammad (Lal), a taxi driver who needs money desperately for his daughter's surgery. There are other characters like Abirami (Mythili) the writer-friend of Manu, an auto driver, a prostitute and a Tamil lottery seller who play vital links in the chain that moves the plot forward and brings it to a satisfying resolution.

Director Vasudev Sanal juggles all the different balls without missing a beat. The action plays out like music rising to a crescendo. A long flashback sequence reveals the backstories of the principal characters. The movie exposes the grimy realities behind the attractively packaged touristy facts about Kerala, branded as "god's own country"--growing economic disparity, exploitation of women, corrupt political leadership, the urban mafia and so on. But it also holds out hope of redemption.

There is a bridge that must be crossed if one is to find redemption. Like the one Manu crosses when he unburdens himself to the garrulous auto driver when he has reached the nadir and lost all hope of recovering his money as well as his happy and privileged life in Dubai. Or the one the sub-inspector crosses when he realizes how prejudice has blinded him from seeing the humanity of a poor migrant.

Even Vakkachan's wife (Lena) has her own bridge to cross if she must find peace and she does it knowing that once she crosses it, there will be no going back. These crossings and connections then lead to life-transforming moments that speak of the human potential for overcoming differences and creating a world which will be more balanced, humane and sensitive to the needs of others who desire to live with respect and dignity.



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