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Cast: Prithviraj, Jayasurya, Naren, Indrajith, Kavya, Radhika, Jagathy, Vijeesh, Balachandra Menon, Anoop
Language: Malayalam
Director: Lal Jose
Producer: P.K.Muraleedharan,Prakash Harikrishnan
Camera: Rajeev Ravi
Story: James Albert
Screenplay: James Albert
Dialogue: James Albert
Lyrics: Vayalar Sarathchandra Varma
Music: Alex Paul
Distribution: Lal Release
Year: 2006

Lal Jose is a gutsy and daringly different director. He has proved once again with Classmates, after that brilliantly crafted Achanurangatha Veedu, that he loves to take the road less traveled. Straight off the bat, Classmates is a smartly packaged film that shows the importance of a good script.

Your college days are supposed to be the best time in your life. There have been many films set in campus with all its fun and sorrow. Who can forget the Padmarajan-Bharathan classic Chamaram, K.G.George’s Ulkadal, Venu Nagavally’s Sukhamo Devi and Sarvakalasala or Mohan’s Shalini Ente Kootukari?

Well, Classmates can be included along with the batch of our all-time great campus stories in Malayalam. In the era of the all powerful superstars, Lal Jose has made a great entertainer which tugs your heart strings and features lesser mortals. The B-team of actors Pritviraj, Indrajeet, Jayasurya, Narain, Kavya and a new girl Radhika come out with flying colours. No two ways about it, that they are the future of Malayalam cinema.

The film opens with a retired college professor Iyer (Balachandra Menon) and his wife retired Chemistry professor Lakshmi (Shoba Mohan) trying to organize a get-together of the 1991 batch of CMS college, Kottayam. This meeting is also in memory of Murali (Narein) the college singer and their only son who died under mysterious circumstances during his final year.

The 1991 batch agrees to meet as each of them has their own personal agendas to be fulfilled. Murali’s parents want to keep his promise that the batch will meet after 10 years of graduation. The group leader is Sukumaran (Pritviraj), a fiery leader of left student party SFK, now a diamond merchant in Mumbai, Satheesan Kanjikuzhi (Jayasurya) led the rival student party DSU and is now an MLA, his right-hand man ‘Vaalu’ Vasu (Vijeesh) is his PA.

Then there is a rich planter’s son Pious George (Indrajeet) who was the college Romeo and a close friend of Sukumaran, now settled in Gulf. There is Thara Kurup (Kavya Madhavan) a well-known classical dancer whose father was a politician and a minister. Thara now runs a dance school and is a spinster still madly in love with Sukumaran. Razia (Radhika) the ‘Penquin’ as she is called for wearing a peculiar kind of burkha is also a part of the gang.

The reunion proves to be fatal as Sukumaran is almost strangled to death with a guitar string tied around his neck. Was it a suicide or a cold blooded murder attempt? To find the answer, one has to see Classmates which unfolds as a flashback. Pious goes down the memory lane and narrates their life and times during their college days to Prof Iyer leading to a gripping and unpredictable twist in the climax.

The college scenes are brilliantly executed. The slow romantic build up to the Sukumaran-Thara Kurup love story culminating in being trapped in the Chemistry lab is well-picturised. Loads of campus fun brings back memories of college days- the canteen, the hostel warden, father Esthappan (Jagathy), the library, violent student politics, romances, elections, all brings back a smile on your face.

The actors look and act real. Pritviraj as Sukumaran is an absolute delight to watch. Clearly, he is in his elements, playing a college student and watch out for his romance with Kavya. Jayasurya is simply great in comedy and he walks away with some of the best one-liners in the film. Indrajeet as Pious is a revelation and Kavya sums up a fine portrayal as Thara. But it is the new girl Radhika who steals the show in the suspense laden climax. The supporting cast of veterans like Balachandra Menon and Jagathy are all brilliant even though in small roles.

Another highlight is Alex Paul’s melodious songs which gives a campus flavour of the 80’s and 90’s. Plus Rajiv Ravi’s camera expertly navigates through the campus. Above all, Lal Jose and his scriptwriter James Albert deserve to be congratulated for their keen sense of detailing in terms of costumes, mannerisms and body languages of the lead artists. Lal is also able to extract spellbinding performances from his actors however small their roles are.

On the whole, Classmates is a breezy entertainer. So go ahead and watch the 91 batch of good fellows.

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