[Written April 2008]
What a beautiful, touching, and unique film this is! It's such a moving movie and one that almost all of us can connect with... the remembrances of one's past, mistakes, successes, loves, friends. I really loved the depiction of village life and a boy's "coming of age" in the beginning. The attention to detail was so refreshing, from the boy's fascination with the girl's braid endpiece bouncing along their backsides, to the makeshift blackboards used by schoolchildren. Also, the scenery shot in Kerala during the main character's college days is absolutely breathtaking visually and in atmosphere. Watching the characters travel to college on boats that glide serenly through the greenery was a treat. The movie is certainly romance-centric, and I could see hopeless romantics loving and sobbing along with the characters. It was a treat to watch the main character progress to different kinds of love as he matured. Beyond the love stories, my favorite part of the movie was the third storyline involving the main character forming a mature and special friendship with a girl his age. It is such a beautiful and unique relationship to see in an Indian film, and the girl's character is quite fleshed out.
I was also impressed with how the characters were made to appear older/younger depending on the time of a scene. It was done with finesse and without any cheesy prosthetics or gags, and looked very natural. In fact the whole movie was, for the most part, incredibly natural. The only exceptions were the over-the-top fight scene and the kitschy retro bolly-style song, but the vast majority of the film is true-to-life.
Another thing I enjoyed from the film was the depiction of the main character moving to a different state in India and having trouble learning the language. In fact, this struggle is the subject of some hilarious scenes between the main character and his love interest as he tries to understand her scoldings. But the idea of India having such diverse languages isn't something many in the West are familiar with, and it was nice to see it shown in the film, particularly in how the boy's classmates (Malayalam-speaking) made fun of him when he would use Tamil and because he came from Tamil Nadu. It's really the same anywhere you go in the world, these rivalries amongst people. :)
In sum, highly recommended!
Here are some more screencaps from the film: