Film: "Arabikatha"; Director: Lal Jose; Cast: Sreenivasan, Indrajith, Zhang Shu Min, Jagathy Sreekumar and Samvritha Sunil; Writer: Iqbal Kuttipuram; Ratings: ***
Director Lal Jose has again come out with an offbeat subject in "Arabikatha". The film tells the tale of Keralites working in the Middle East from a totally different angle. Iqbal Kuttipuram narrates the story of a staunch Leftist migrating to Gulf to earn money.
'Cuba' Mukundan, played by Sreenivasan, is an idealist. His title is a testimony to his faith in the reality of his ideals. He fails to see how corruption has crept into his comrades and their plot to remove him from the path of their material progress.
They trap 'Society' Gopalan (Nedumudi Venu), Mukundan's father and the founder of the Leftist movement in his village, in a case of financial fraud. This shatters Mukundan, who suspends his father from the membership of the party.
Mukundan also accepts the amount involved on the alleged fraud as his personal debt to be repaid to the party. But, for that, he has to go and work in the Middle East, a country which he has always discouraged his comrades from going.
In the Gulf, Mukundan finds people working and living in terribly inhospitable conditions to send money back home. When he lands there, he has big ideas about improving the condition of the people but no one is ready to lend him an ear.
He is also thrown out of a couple of jobs for displaying his revolutionary zeal.
The scriptwriter and the director deserve kudos for the film's realistic depiction of the conditions in which many Keralites work in the Gulf.
Sreenivasan's performance as Mukundan is subdued and restrained. He does not go overboard as one feared after seeing his recent roles.
Indrajith, as a true follower of Mukundan, is earnest. Chinese girl Zhang Shu Min, with whom Mukundan is besotted, does a good job but one wishes that her characterisation had been sharper.
Lal Jose succeeds in giving us a film that is way ahead, in quality and content, of what the Malayalam film industry churns out these days.