Unemployment is the most evident topic addressed in the movie Baakki Vannavar, directed by Amal Prasi. But the best part about this indie project is its political sense of the subject. Rather than being an apolitical rant that bitches about bureaucracy, Prasi and his cowriter Salmaanul Faris decide to make the central character a numb witness of the debate. And the film succeeds in making us feel his helplessness as it reaches the climax.
A food delivery boy is our central character. He had cracked one PSC rank list, but the issues around that rank list delayed the posting, and he is now living with his family in a rented house, and he earns a living by delivering food. Baakki Vannavar shows us the realities of people like him who are forced to take that job out of basic necessity.
In a winning scene that shows the debate between two people who have different opinions about reacting to unemployment, we see the movie taking a neutral stand. Captured in a static three-shot, the silent third person is our hero, and the film looks at that debate pretty much from his perspective. Even though it is a bit problematic in terms of politics, the details in that scene very much explain the dilemma in the whole scenario. Rather than proposing any solution (which is difficult), Amal Prasi and Salmaanul Faris are just placing the camera to showcase the aftermath of this situation. There is a sequence in the initial part of the movie where two IT employees talk about the salary delaying tactic of their company. The only major flaw in this movie was the loudness of that scene in terms of presenting the politics.
Despite being an indie project with financial limitations, the movie uses visuals beautifully to convey the drama in the scene. The aspect ratio is shrunk whenever the character Salmaanul Faris plays reaches home. There is a moment where he gets a threatening call from his landlord for defaulting the rent, and the close-up shot is followed by a wide shot of him on his scooter with all the multistory residential flats of Kochi in the background. In another sequence, cinematographer Rahim Ibn Rasheed uses a Dutch angle shot on a flat terrain, and it was a genius move to convey the lone struggle the hero had in this journey. And if you look at it, the screenplay creates a parallel between the central character’s life journey and bike journey.
Salmaanul Faris, who has co-written the film, plays the lead character in the movie, and the numbness on his face clearly conveys the character’s helplessness. The film is actually a gaze from that character’s perspective, and I feel that the helplessness we see in Salmaanul’s eyes encapsulates reality. Sometimes the casting itself will make the character real; this was one such experience.
Baakki Vannavar is a political movie that stays true to its agenda of addressing the issue of a marginalized group who are prevalent yet receive less limelight. Nandita Das’s directorial Zwigato also had a similar theme. But while that movie was softer on addressing the social reality and sort of leaned towards an escapist tone, Amal Prasi’s film has a graph that is consistently improving within the constraints of the budget.
Baakki Vannavar is a political movie that stays true to its agenda of addressing the issue of a marginalized group who are prevalent yet receive less limelight.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended