Alphonse Putharen’s Premam has nothing new in terms of story and content. In fact in those departments, it is strictly average. But Putharen’s treatment is a wonder to behold. True to his title he fills up the screen with love all around. It is not only George’s (Nivin Pauly) love stories that you see but everyone’s. There are the other boys trying to win Mary’s (Anupama Parameshwaran) affection. There is another lecturer vying for Malar’s (Sai Pallavi) love. An offhand shot, or a line or two on other couples in the college. An incorrigible flirt unreformed between 2000 and 2014. A man trying to kiss his lover through his earphones amidst commotion in an otherwise peaceful cafe. Putharen likes to give life to every person and every thing on screen. There is a horse out of nowhere. There is a watchman trying to guard it and a shot of the same watchman eating cake. The fun and camaraderie Putharen creates here are everyday circumstance stylized yet richly detailed. Sometimes even the tone changes between years/narratives – 2000, 2005 and then 2014 – but Putharen’s filmmaking is top notch and is never jarring. He is an exciting director and Premam is a particularly stronger film than his debut Neram. The only contemporary director he reminds me of is Bejoy Nambiar. There are several scenes with the boys sitting around smokes, snacks, food and drinks and chatting. The scene with soda and kasa kasa particularly stands out. It is one of several such scenes throughout the film. Putharen focuses on the props with the dialogues in the background and there is passage of time in what they talk and what they consume as the years go by. The subject here is one shot or few lines away from turning misogynistic but it endearingly does not choose to go there. Instead the women here have the kind of agency you seldom see in popular Indian cinema’s male centric stories (At least Tamil, Hindi, Telugu. For Malayalam this may be par for the course I wouldn’t know). His stylization is only in the filmmaking while the characters are bestowed an authenticity. There is considerable use of natural light, sound and some scenes even give a documentary, hand held camera vibe. For instance, the scene where George pilfers the landline phone to make three phone calls. The camera work is astounding. For the kind of life he’s had it is only poetic that George would open a cakes and desserts cafe. And equally poetic is Nivin Pauly’s performance. How good is he!