Jellikettu :The mad pursuit to kill

 Cannibalistic tendencies of the society seen through the eyes of ordinary villagers.

Jallikettu is the real conquest of an animal ,it could be a bull  ,a buffalo or any animal. I have been to Alasanallor,near Madura in Tamil Nadu where Jallikettu is a great festival during Pongal times .Folk lores celebrate the day with pomp and glamour. People would be preparing for the day in Pongal to tame the bull in their own yard .They are not afraid and willing to lock horns with the bull which is let loose  intoxicated .Death is part of the celebration.

In Kerala where bull is accidently let loose ,the animal is not worshipped nor part of their daily life .Of course as the times demand it,  it is not a bull but a buffalo which has jumped the death on the killing row . The butcher Varkey played by Chemban Vinod Jose  has been a traditional fixation in the village where he enjoys the kill and partakes of the meat with the neighbors . He is popular with peasant folks and many are indebted t him for giving an extra piece of flesh on the days of their festivity. The visual richness of the buffalo made in virtual reality is astonishing

  But as the buffalo  jumps the butchers knife ,he becomes the possession of the village .The village is now the owner of the animal which jumped the butchers knife. . They have to share the booty if it is captured and the butcher the traditional man is left aside .


Jellikettu is the story of the mob in pursuit  to capture the buffalo whom they term mad.The whole village is in pursuit of the mad animal.It is kind of lynching but they are all ignited by the illusion of a small share of beef from the animal free, which is the custom of the village .

 The animal is sane and calm but as the villagers rush in with the torches in the night among the forest ,fields or cardamom plantations risking their  own life yelling against the animal .It gets alarmed and tries to break free. Already experienced the feel of the death  it is more or less in a fighting mood .As the search grows strong the butcher allows his estranged worker Kuttachan played by Abdu Samad to join the camp with the country rifle to kill the animal.

But he comes with the intention to kill those who drove him away branding him a criminalAs the pursuit of the animal continue  in a feverish pitch, human frailties , murderous intent and unfulfilled piece of revenge came to play .There is an elopement gone away, a love unfinished, carnal physical abuse are there in the play but the pursuit goes on unmindful of the small world events .

The boy ,Antony ,played by Antony Varghese ,who was dismissed as no match for the animal by the butcher effortlessly played by Vinod jose , discarded with no real initiative,  takes the centre stage and even knocks down the man, Kuttachan , hell bound to kill him .The man on the deathbed  is ashamed to tell that he has been wounded by the boy  but lies that  the buffalo attacked him to save his grace


The animal escapes the  lynching by the mob for a while but  t every body with torch is after the animal The animal makes an appearance before them with real pearls around its face as if it were an artistic installation. The crescendo built to this scene is fabulous .But the tempo slips in the second half. But its more humane and a village comes alive in the night.  


Shot in real locations where the local population itself is part of the star cast ,the film is a real look at the cannibalistic tendencies  of our society .The  camera ,by Gireesh Gangadharan is steady exploring the men and women in the film with stark details .Night shots are so illuminating and add to the somber quality of the film They are silhouetted against the forest where the buffalo is pushing past them of course in the do or die battle .In the cannibalistic world where villagers are in a frenzy,  the animals days are numbered but it goes through the forests tempting them and driving them mad .

The lynched and the men who want to lynch become one . Actually they lose more than the animal which is fighting for its life .Fierce images of killing ,cutting of the flesh of animals give a gruesome appeal to the oeuvre  .But in such a small world the explicit images add to the sounds of the cabal drums played by all

Finally the buffalo is captured and killed and shared but it poses dark questions before us. What  use the conquest sacrificing near ones and  who has won and lost in the mad pursuit which is a very relevant question in this highly charged times

The director Lijo Jose Pellishery who has stolen our hearts with Amen and Angamali Diaries and Easo Mariam Ouseppe …once again does it with maximum effect with less drama and action but real time shots which would captivate us  for long.

By P.S Joseph



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മലയാളത്തില്‍ ടൈപ്പ് ചെയ്യാന്‍ ഇവിടെ ക്ലിക്ക് ചെയ്യുക
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