TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Paka (River of Blood)’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF 2021 by - September 13, 2021
TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Paka (River of Blood)’

Paka (River of Blood) refers to one of three rivers that flow through Wayanad. It’s a district that’s home to people who migrate within India’s Kerala State. A child of those migrants and one of its prodigal sons is Uncle Kocheppu (Jose Kizhakkan). He returns to the district and his family after his fifteen year incarceration. Incarceration changes him, even volunteering to arrange the marriage of two people who love each other. One is his adult nephew Johnny (Basil Paulose), and the other is Anna (Vinitha Koshy), the adult daughter of the man he killed. Part of the arranging process is going to Anna’s Uncle Varkey (Joseph Manickal). But before he can get to the reconciliation and marriage, Varkey makes a threat to his life.

Director Nithin Lukose literally peppers his film with interesting characters, like Uncle Jose, a neutral party from the warring families who swims to the river to recover the missing men’s bodies. His functioning alcoholism also stops the families from discovering each others’ bodies, putting all their business to a standstill. Koshy and one more actor here have previous credits, but the rest are first time actors. Lukose cast them well, some of them inheriting the area’s natural traumas, some of them are real world handsome, but many of them need workshopping. It’s also totally understandable that digital cinema is necessary for financial constraints but it dulls some of the visuals. That said, this film depicts ritualized violence that make a people yearn for peace.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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