What is Communism? Who is a Communist? What does it take to become a Communist? The individuals who claim to be Communists today, do they really know what Communism is? Way before the Malayalam film industry witnessed strong narratives in the socio-political genre like Jana Gana Mana, Kuruthi, and Pada, in 2013, Murali Gopy wrote a script, which Arun Kumar Aravind decided to give life to, in the form of Left Right Left. The answers to the questions mentioned above can be found in this film.
Starring an impressive cast that includes Indrajith Sukumaran, Hareesh Peradi, Murali Gopy, Lena, Vijayaraghavan, Sethulakshmi, and others in pivotal roles, Left Right Left is undoubtedly one of the finest political thrillers that the Malayalam film industry has ever witnessed. The film fell prey to what it tried to showcase – politics. It was pulled out of theaters within weeks of the film being released. It’s been ten years since the film’s release, yet it still holds a special place in everyone’s hearts and is referred to as a criminally underrated film.
In this article, I shall try to point out five reasons why Left Right Left should be a film you should check out immediately if you haven’t already.
The Ideology Of Communism and Its Depiction Through Characters
The concept of Communism has a long history. The ideology started as one that aimed to bridge differences between individuals and end the capitalistic outlook of society. Communism was more about the common man and unity, where every resource is distributed equally amongst all individuals, irrespective of class. The ideology spread across countries rapidly, and many individuals further propagated it. Stalwarts in the field of politics, such as Carl Marx, Che Guevara, Lenin, and so on, tweaked the idea of Communism as time and people’s needs progressed. These ideologies, too, spread across the world, with many following different forms of Communism. Kerala is one of those few areas where the ideology of Communism had the maximum impact. As time evolved, its true essence was lost. Today, many claim that Communist leaders and party workers in Kerala are reduced to goons and individuals who would be ready to kill someone in the name of the party.
Through the character of Roy Joseph, aka Che Guevara Roy, Murali Gopy tried to show us what it really means to be a true Communist. He showed us that a Communist is someone who stands for the people and fights for his rights and not one who resorts to violence to get his rights. However, Communism today has turned into something else altogether, where arms and violence are the way to shut out critics and maintain a stronghold, as shown through the character of Kaitheri Sahadevan. The fierce politician, who has seen violence as an option to fight injustice and was brought up in the same way right from his childhood, propagated the same, believing it to be the true ideology of Communism. But knowingly or unknowingly, his actions transformed the main idea of Communism into something else altogether, which was not the aim of the founders of such a thought. The character of PK Jayan, aka Vattu Jayan, is written to showcase the common man who gets caught up in politics and show us that section of the public gets agitated and influenced very easily.
Through the various characters in the film and their arcs, Left Right Left tries to uncover and put before the public what Communism and its ideologies really stand for. Towards the conclusion, Murali shows us that the women of the film, Anitha and Lathika, were the real Communists all along because they had their battles to fight and continue to fight the same because they are alone, brave and fearless, and continue to live by fighting these battles, much like what the true ideologies of Communism stood for.
Strong Characterisations and Equally Strong Acting Performances
“Man is part DNA, part the unknown and part what he sees as a kid.”
This is the film’s opening lines, and these wordings give us a brief of what to witness through the film’s three leads. They justify the definition of man as provided.
Murali Gopy masterfully brings to life the character of Roy Joseph, also known as Che Guevara Roy, in a way that embodies the lesser-known aspects of the definition of communism. Growing up as the child of a communist, Roy was immersed in the ideologies of communism from a young age. This exposure allowed him to think critically and discern what is true and what is not. He thoughtfully distinguishes between ideological theories and instinctive actions, ultimately justifying those that align with communism. Roy sets the standard for being a communist by following the ideologies of renowned communist leaders, including Marx, Lenin, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and Gorbachev. He asserts that communism today must be a blend of these ideologies. Murali Gopy’s portrayal of Roy Joseph is exceptional, capturing the character’s intellectual and sophisticated nature with ease and perfection. Murali naturally reveals the character’s body language, mannerisms, and overall demeanor.
The character of Kaitheri Sahadevan embodies the “part DNA” aspect of the definition. As a child, he witnessed his uncle’s murder and his father, Chaathu. It instilled in him the belief that Communists stand up for themselves and their community by taking revenge for the harm caused. This mentality became ingrained in Sahadevan and influenced his actions, inspiring others to follow suit. His unwavering conviction made him feared in the political sphere, as no one dared to oppose him. Sahadevan frequently referenced his father’s teachings in his public speeches as the true essence of Communism. Hareesh Peradi portrayed Kaitheri Sahadevan with remarkable passion and skill.
The character PK Jayan, also known as Vattu Jayan and played by Indrajith Sukumaran, embodies the “part of his childhood experiences” aspect of the definition. Growing up, Jayan experienced many hardships and witnessed firsthand the harsh realities of life without money or power. As an adult, he became a corrupt SI who flaunts his authority. Despite his flaws, Jayan remains unapologetically true to his beliefs and principles, refusing to submit to any higher power. Unfortunately, his troubled past has left him with a mental condition that causes unpredictable emotional outbursts, earning him the nickname Vattu Jayan. Indrajith delivers what could arguably be his career-best performance as Vattu Jayan.
In addition to the exceptional performances of the three main actors, Lena as Anitha and Sethulakshmi as Lathika provide unwavering support for Roy and Jayan, respectively, with their outstanding acting skills. The rest of the supporting cast, including Ramya Nabeeshan, Baiju Santhosh, Jagadeesh, Vijayaraghavan, Sudheer Karamana, Sreejith Ravi, Saiju Kurup, and others, also give exceptional performances.
An Underrated Gopi Sunder Musical Work
In the movie Left Right Left, which tackles the current socio-political climate of the state, a powerful and intense tune was crucial to stir emotions in the audience. Gopi Sunder provided exactly that with his music, which, although repeated throughout the film, was perfectly suited to each situation and left a lasting impact. The LRL anthem, sung by Murali Gopy, effectively conveys the film’s message. The visuals of the movie also contribute to establishing the relationships between the three main characters.
Along with the LRL anthem, the film has three other songs that are soulful. Left Right Left is one of those works of Gopi Sunder that went under the radar of many music fanatics and remains an under-appreciated work of his. Like the movie, the music album deserves a second chance as it has songs that can make it to your playlist and be your absolute favorites.
Resemblance To Real-Life Personalities
The main reason why Left Right Left bore the brunt of the politicians in Kerala was that it showcased the almost real image of several political stalwarts from the Communist party. Murali Gopy’s aim through the film was to shed light on the way in which Communism as an ideology is now being reduced to something that’s far away from the conceived idea of the ideology. The party has become yet another power-hungry and corrupt group of people who feel they have become Communists by giving away their religious beliefs.
The character of Kaitheri Sahadevan has a direct reference to the current Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan. The character embodies Vijayan’s belief in eliminating threats to one’s position or name. The financial scam involving Vijayan’s name is also a major plot point. The resemblance sparked controversy and called for a ban.
Moreover, the character of Comrade SR, played by Vijayaraghavan, resembled the ex-Chief Minister of Kerala and senior Communist party leader, VS Achuthanandan. The body mannerisms and get-up of Vijayaraghavan were the same as that of VS Achuthanandan, which was another reason for the Communist party supporters to call for a ban on the film.
Many such real incidents and political connections among the leaders were brought to light through the film, which enraged the leaders and party workers. Their combined efforts saw the light, and the film was covertly pulled out of the theaters slowly, affecting it financially and hampering the reach it could have received.
Cult Status Of The Film And How It Stood The Test Of Time
Party workers and leaders called for a ban on the film, was covertly pulled out of theaters, and was not given the opportunity to be screened on television for the public. Yet, ten years later, the film is still valued and praised for its brilliance. This proves that content will stand the test of time if there is credit and strength in your content, and Left Right Left is the perfect example of the same.
Murali Gopy and Arun Kumar Aravind became the trendsetters for fearless storytelling, which resurrected after almost 8-10 years in the form of Kuruthi, Jana Gana Mana, Pada, and so on. Left Right Left now has an immense cult following and is regarded as a criminally underrated film and a film that was released at the wrong time.
I recommend checking out this excellently crafted political thriller from the Malayalam film industry. Murali Gopy is a gifted scriptwriter whose work often challenges individuals’ beliefs and faiths due to his insightful interpretation of history and socio-political scenarios in the country. Unfortunately, his brilliance is often underappreciated, and his content is disregarded by many until it is available on a platform outside of theaters.
I believe Left Right Left is Murali’s finest work to date. Unfortunately, the film didn’t receive the recognition it deserved upon its release. However, it has since become a cult classic, shedding light on the dire state of politics in Kerala, particularly the Communist party. Ironically, the film was a victim of the politics it sought to expose. Left Right Left is an exceptional political thriller in Malayalam that deserves wider exploration. Its message should be shared across borders.
What are your thoughts on the film and its content? Please share in the comments section.