In the halls of Malayalam cinema, there are always two names that echo, whether they are on screen or not. Mohanlal, and Mammootty. “Bheeshma Parvam” is a reminder of the cinematic giant that Mammootty is, and what he can achieve alongside the singular style of Amal Neerad.
An imposing patriarch that the family turns to is a familiar concept in Malayalam films. It is familiar to Mammooty himself, having played roles of the same caliber before. But with Michael, we see a retired beast, rather than one rearing to go with his blood on fire. Michael is certainly the one who makes the decisions in his family, the one who orders the battles and is the fiercest of protectors.
It is a sprawling family full of siblings, nephews, and prodigal relations. Each of the characters has their own individual character and place, but they all share the same fear of the man that is Michael. He does not bark orders; he is sarcastic and laidback, willing to make jokes with the older women in the family. He stands for love, no matter who it is between, and he sees through the motivations of his family. Even if he does not condemn, he does make it known that he will not stand for anything that threatens the family.
This man, with a past, does not need to fight battles alone. He has henchmen, he has nephews, and he sits for family photographs after ordering brutal attacks on men who have wronged others. He is a savior to many and an oppressive force to the family members who have to obey him.
“Bheeshma Parvam” is coloured by formidable actors who portray their characters with ease and conviction. The family members are varied and vivid, with their personal and familial conflicts, trials, and tribulations that they only take to Michael when there is no one else to go to.
Michael’s nephews by blood include an unstable Shine. Tom Chacko, his brother, who is willing to go along with anything the former suggests, and his sister’s son, who struggles in the household run by his abusive father. However, it is the nephews who aren’t strictly related to him that have his respect. Soubin Shahir and Sreenath Bhasi turn in impressive performances as the brothers who owe it all to Michael and treat that bond with the same respect that has been granted to them.
Michael reveals in a moment of self-awareness to the woman he loves, that he knows his family fears him more than they love him. He goes on to say that he knows it is a fear he has created because of his own fear of losing his family. It is this fear that turns to resentment and hatred and finally rears its ugly head up and forces Michael to fight and face loss again.
The Myriad of Conflicts
There are several complicated dynamics that occupy this family. The Muslim first wife of Michael’s brother and her children who others believe shouldn’t be given the place they have. The sister who cannot leave her abusive marriage because she chose this man for herself. The priest brother who is tired of his brother’s humiliation and overwhelming control. The nephew whose greed is thwarted time and again by this patriarch who isn’t even older than his own father.
It is this play of dynamics and conflict that creates a fully fledged and dynamic battle for Michael and others to fight. There is tragedy which leads to a young love that is destroyed and a young brother who has avoided the fights till now. Aided by the slow motion shots that are characteristic of Amal Neerad and powerful music by Sushin Shyam, the film never lacks style and is always looking to shock and intimidate its audience.
“Bheeshma Parvam” is a tale of everything that builds up unchecked, the cracks that widen till they threaten the foundation of the family, and of a man who must see through it all, think of it all, and know how to do it all. It is the complications of family and the power of loss, all tying together to remind us that peace must be fought for, and sometimes even when the weapon must turn against loved ones.
“Bheeshma Parvam” is a 2022 Malayalam Language Drama Thriller film directed by Amal Neerad.