It depicts a violent chase that resembles a battlefield in which a king’s army is mindlessly running for the kill.
In the beginning of the film, you see the camera focusing on the red sky and the beams coming out from several torchlights on the ground. There’s tranquillity felt during this scene. Here, Director Lijo Jose Pelissery gives importance to the ‘colour red’ and ‘the torchlight’ as you see how these two metamorphose into something ferocious. As the movie progresses, while the colour red takes the form of flesh and blood, the torchlight gives way to fire.
Turmoil is something that has found a place in Lijo’s previous films like Ea.Ma.Yau and Angamaly Diaries. You can witness that in Jallikattu too. There’s a commotion in a village and the men, with vehement rage, are running after a buffalo. A ‘mountain’ of men (yes, you see a throng of men forming a mountain) not only go after an animal with rage but also go after each other. The film’s storyline makes you question whether, as humans, we have reached a stage where we, with our sagacious minds, have fully understood the significance of coexistence. It makes you understand the importance of living together in harmony. The film assesses the evolution of humans and checks whether or not the modern-day humans have evolved and grown into a more intelligent and compassionate species than the Early Humans.
Jallikattu is terrifying and engrossing. Prashant Pillai’s tense background score is the film’s biggest asset. Whether it’s the tick-tock sound like that of a clock or some demonic noises, Prashant’s score amplifies the fierceness of the movie. Gireesh Gangadharan’s brilliance in his cinematography tricks makes the movie even more horrific. You see the closeups of burning fire with intermittent blackouts. Or, the camera quickly moves closer to a fruit hanging from a tree and comes to an abrupt stop. The rapidly changing scenes showing a wooden stick being sharpened or meat being chopped off (with Prashant’s music in action) is splendidly stitched together. Even the continuous uninterrupted shots like a man going from room to room and talking to different people are immersive.
The film is not out-and-out grim. Lijo has made sure that it has its share of humour as well. For instance, a street food seller calmly walks on the road as an irritated villager, trying to catch the buffalo, pulls him aside. And, in another scene, while a group of men are having a serious discussion on the roadside, they get irked by the drunkards who are carelessly yelling and dancing on the streets.
The trio of Sophie (Santhy Balachandran), Antony (Antony Varghese) and Kuttachan (Sabumon Abdusamad) give the film a taste of romance and lust. Even though it is for a short while, Lijo ensures that it is noticeable in the midst of all that violence and rancour.
Jallikattu doesn’t follow a central character as such. But there are certain individuals who are closely followed to delineate the beast coming out from the humans. (The rivalry between Antony and Kuttachan arrests you).
Jallikattu is also a bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu but the film chooses not to depict it in any way. Unlike the actual sport, this film depicts a violent chase that resembles a battlefield in which a king’s army is mindlessly running for the kill. Here, not only a buffalo subjected to cruelty is unbearable and painful but the representation of sheer loss of humanity and compassion is staggering. Not only an animal welfare activist but even the human rights activist will find it hard to witness what this film has to offer. Such is the greatness of Lijo as he gives this film a thoughtful outlook.