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Padavettu movie review: Nivin Pauly’s film is a well-crafted, emotionally-charged call for resistance

The characters of Nivin Pauly’s Padavettu and their problems are all too relatable and that’s what makes it an important and engaging clarion call.

Padavettu movie review: Nivin Pauly’s film is a well-crafted, emotionally-charged call for resistance
Padavettu poster
  • Sanjith Sidhardhan

Last Updated: 12.37 PM, Oct 21, 2022

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Story: Ravi, a former athlete, is now broken – mentally and physically. His indolent and apathetic ways have further made others, including his aunt whom he lives with, look down upon. After a political party decides to renovate his house as part of their service scheme, though with selfish motives, Ravi’s life takes a turn. But to put up a stand and become the voice of his people, he has to first rebuild his broken self-esteem.

Review: Director Liju Krishna’s Padavettu starts with its protagonist Ravi looking at the moon, almost in a state of reverie, as he is rudely interrupted by the sound of someone spitting. The scene has a deeper meaning in the movie once the story reveals Ravi’s lost dreams, and why he has now reduced himself to an indolent man who is apathetic to what happens around him. In fact, for the first 20 minutes, Ravi hardly speaks to anyone – and yet the movie revolves around his journey from a mute spectator to someone who is pushed to react and then goes on to become his community’s voice of resistance.

Padavettu poster
Padavettu poster

Padavettu is packed with such layers, but none too hard to decode. In fact, the people and their problems are all too relatable and that’s what makes it an important and engaging clarion call. Liju, who has also scripted the movie, has chosen to tell the story through Ravi – who was once a promising athlete till he had met with an accident. It’s this failure that breaks and detaches him from the people around him. The first half of the movie is dedicated to how – bit by bit – Ravi rebuilds his self-esteem. The pacing is just right for such a film that has a character whom a lot of people can immediately relate with. Ravi doesn’t perform too many heroic feats; in fact, every time he is reminded of his failures, he backs away into his shell. But when he is pushed to the brink, he reacts. And thus starts a chain reaction that finally leads him to taking on a cause that is much bigger than himself.

While telling Ravi’s story, Padavettu also delves deep into a relevant, important socio-political issue by addressing the plight of the farmers, their land and how politicians, under the guise of helping the less-privileged, use them to make more money. It serves as a mirror to the various schemes and programmes that initially promise to benefit the farmers but end up robbing everything truly valuable to them. In Padavettu, it’s Shammi Thilakan’s political leader Kuyyali and his party JSP that become the schemers. The movie does digress a bit while highlighting the aims of the political party in detail. This could be forgiven considering it leads to the next set to obstacles that Ravi has to face.

Nivin Pauly in Padavettu poster
Nivin Pauly in Padavettu poster

Nivin as Ravi puts on a mature performance that’s required for a movie as rooted as this. Like Ravi, he communicates the most with his eyes and subtle expressions, which is also why when he lets out a war cry, it becomes all the more effective. There is a certain bullheadedness about Ravi that Nivin fully encapsulates, and this melts away during his journey and takes the shape of an iron-will, especially in the climax sequence when he is out to ‘weed out’ the unnecessary elements from his land.


The casting of Padavettu is perfect; Shammi gives one of his best performances till date as Kuyyali while Remya Suresh also stands out. Shine Tom Chacko, Aditi Balan, Kainakary Thankaraj and Sudheesh also get enough screen space to showcase their caliber.

Govind Vasantha music lends the soul of the film. Padaveetu also has several theatrical moments such as hunters chasing the prey, the brawl in the paddy field, a hunting of a boar, farmers being led as probably as slaves up a punishing quarry and even the political party members bathed in blue – all of it fitting organically to how the story is told. Deepak D Menon’s cinematography also paints a brilliant picture of the village and its many conflicts.

Verdict: Backed by great storytelling, performances and music, Padavettu is an intense socio-political drama that is worth watching in theatres as it will keep you engrossed.