Anyone who has watched Lijo Jose Pellissery's Angamali Diaries knows what this man's control is over mob mayhem. But Jallikettu is several notches up. It proves that Lijo Jose Pellissery is the ‘king of chaos’. Jallikettu is truly beast vs animal, and it is up to you, the viewer, to decide who is who.
A buffalo runs amok before the butcher Varkeychan (Chemban Vinod) could slaughter it, causing the entire village to slip into a progressive bedlam. Nailing it then becomes a matter of masculine pride, awaking the primal instinct of every man in the village.
Jallikettu, not at all subtly, is emblematic of the gross violence we are used to in the name of masculinity. It shines a mirror at the face of the machismo we have internalised as a society. In a story that starts as man versus wild, it doesn't take that long before man becomes the wild.
Chemban Vinod, Antony Varghese, Sabumon Abdusamad and Santhy Balachandran, all good actors, makes their mark within the limited screen time they receive. But at the end of the day, Jallikettu will not be known for their acting alone as this is the story of a mob. The shove, and push and pull of Jallikettu comes from within the crowd. And that brings us to the brilliant execution of it all. Jallikettu shines through with the spectacular and spellbinding visuals Girish Gangadharan puts forth in the race, as well as the pause. His capable lens arrests the audience precisely to what needs to be watched. Prashant Pillai is a musician who appreciates and manoeuvres music and silences alike. In Jallikettu, where frenzied chaos ensues, his nuanced music, and most often lack thereof, puts in just the right amount of sanity into the narrative so that the audience can grasp what unfolds on the screen. Aiding the fluidity of the narrative further is Renganaath Ravee's sound design.
Jallikettu is based on a short story, titled Maoist, written by Hareesh S. And he himself adapts it for screen along with Jayakumar. However, Jallikettu is less of a story and more a situation. And having few dialogues throughout works in some places, but also leaves a lot unsaid.
Jallikettu is a visual experience to behold on the big screen. A spectacle - at times unnerving, appalling - and thrilling at the same time. It is not that much about the story, but about primal machismo that drives the testosterone-y male species and the extent of havoc man is capable of.