Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is one of the most frequently adapted classics on celluloid. Apart from Hollywood’s straight adaptations we have had Mansoor Khan’s candyfloss Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s version of flamboyant costume drama RamLeela, to Rajeev Ravi’s starkly realistic take in AnnayumRasoolum. In Eeda, editor-turned director B. Ajith Kumar spins his version of the bard’s classic in the milieu of strife-ridden Kannur.
Anand (Shane Nigam) and Aishwarya (Nimisha Sajayan) belong to families that attest to diametrically different political ideologies. Though the seeds of love are first sown in Kannur, the relationship blossoms in another city far removed from the prying eyes of their families. Anand works in an insurance company and Aishwarya is an architecture student. How they bolster the love story in the middle of a raging political storm forms the crux of Eeda. Will their love survive all that man-made hatred?
Director Ajith Kumar leisurely and organically nurtures the love story. Anand is the shy one, it’s Aishwarya who initially steers the romance forward. And it doesn’t start with a typical bang—she hitches a ride on his bike and he drops her at home on a hartal day, thereby also setting the tone for its political discord. Except for a brief tiff, nothing transpires between the two that hints at an impending romance.
The blend of tradition and modernity is intertwined nicely in the relationship. Though belonging to a family rooted in patriarchy, Ammu who’s alliance is already fixed with a Comrade, lives a liberal life in college, far removed from claustrophobic traditional mores. She frequents pubs, wears modern clothes, and has a mind of her own but she also religiously attends Theyyam and believes the predictions of the Theyyam. So does Anand aka Nandu. He is a sensitive young man, a mere spectator to the politics he doesn’t subscribe to. Both Ammu and Nandu are conditioned by their families in their political leanings, which they both abhor.
The depiction of violence in politics tethers between graphic and subtle—in one scene they explain how a person's body was brutally cut into pieces and a few scenes later, though not graphic they show a man being brutally hacked to death.
Some of the sub-characters, though not broadly sketched, still create an impact. Anand’s relative Upendra (Manikandan Achari) is a willing pawn of their party. There is a nice little moment when his wife (Surabhi) tries to slip in a jar of ginger pickle as he gets ready to take off to prison.A wheel-chair bound Sakhavu who is remembered only on important occasions...The widow who refuses to fall into the trap of the party’s personal revenge plan...A party worker who shrugs casually when he is told about a plan to murder him...People kill or get killed as they are bound by loyalties rather than ideology. Politics is often used as a sham to seek personal vendetta.
Ajith Kumar adeptly captures the vicious politics and the people who get inadvertently sucked into it. All are forced to alter their personal choices according to the political party they belong to. The build-up to the violence and the scenes after are superbly choreographed. Especially the scenes towards the latter half evoke the right amount of fear and hatred.
What stands tall amidst the volatile politics is their romance that remains steady and unwavering. It’s honest, mature yet innocent and extremely convincing and all credit to the actors who breathe life into Anand and Aishwarya. Shane Nigam, despite being typecast in the role of a brooding, tragic lover, continues to surprise you with his intensity and is beautifully in control during some of the most emotionally-charged moments. His eyes have this beseeching quality that makes you believe every word he tells her. While Nimisha Sajayan, who made a brilliant debut last year with ThondimuthalumDriksakshiyum, is pitch perfect in her second film. Her smile, voluminous eyes, her anger, the way she breaks into tears, the conviction with which she holds on to him—she is breath-taking. So is the love story.
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