Lijo Jose Pellissery’s 'Ee. Ma. Yau' wins prestigious Critics Award

In what could be a favourable move for the cinema of Malayalam, ‘Ee. Ma. Yau,’ a morbid satire by auteur filmmaker Lijo Jose Pellissery has garnered over half the votes polled by 23 film critics from all over India to win the prestigious FCCI Best Indian Film of 2018 Citation Award.

In earlier years, this citation instituted by the Film Critics Circle of India to encourage the production of cinema of high artistic and aesthetic value had been awarded to Village Rockstars (Assamese), Thithi (Kannada), and Court (Marathi /Gujarati /Hindi /English); in 2018, 2017, and 2016, respectively.

In this year’s nomination list, Rahi Anil Barve's Tumbbad (Hindi), Aditya Vikram Sengupta's Jonaki (Bengali /English), and Rima Das' 'Bulbul Can Sing (Assamese) were the three other films that found a place. Also recommended were Andhadhun, Ashwatthama, Badhaai Ho, Bhayanakam, Ek Je Chhilo Raja, Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon, Love Sonia, Maassab, Manto, Mulk, Olu, Pariyerum Perumal, Poomaram, Raazi, Soni, Sudani from Nigeria, Vada Chennai, and Uronchandi; in the preliminary round.

Pellissery's Ee Ma Yau had earlier won major awards at the Kerala State Film Awards and at IFFI and IFFK. He made his debut as a filmmaker with the critically acclaimed Nayakan (2010) and followed it up with City of God (2011), Amen (2013), Double Barrel (2015), and Angamaly Diaries (2017).

Here’s what a few Members of the Jury have to say of Ee. Ma. Yau:

Manoj Barpujari: “Deserves kudos for its sincerity in enacting a funeral drama that looks at subaltern realities in a rural Keralite backdrop with the sea and Christianity forming layers of cinematic significance.”

Parthajit Baruah: “With a gripping narrative style, Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Ee. Ma. Yau is a brilliantly portrayed film on death that reveals a range of symbolic implications, with a touch of humour and an almost obsessive concern with human mortality. The death of the old man Vavachan mestri, his son Eeshi’s promise to his father to have a grand funeral and the subsequent dramas are a reflection of our dreams and disenchantments, our hopes and disillusionments.”

Madhu Eravankara: “Brilliant and faithful portrayal of a fishing village near Cochin, exposing the inhuman practices of the church and the helplessness of the downtrodden in a so-called civilized society.”

Utpal Borpujari: “With its ensemble cast, energetic storytelling, fluid camera work and tongue-in-cheek look at religion, society and relationships, Ee. Maa. Yau creates a moody yet satirical portrait of life.”

Saibal Chatterjee: “Superbly orchestrated rumination on life and death in a coastal Kerala village, where the follies and foibles of mankind, the workings of fate and the manifestations of grief are portrayed in a manner that is both culturally specific and universally resonant.”

Dalton L: “Upsets the postcards of a seaside village by unleashing the long take and emotionally charged non-stars, simulating actual lighting, and situating the primary focus on have-nots desiring the glory of wants; to serve the purpose of the neorealist church. Lijo Jose Pellissery’s morbid satire is the extension of an experimental /versatile body of work that pioneered, and continues to represent, the so-termed new-gen cinema of Malayalam.”

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