Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Tamaar Padaar

Quite a few films suffer from a mysterious cinematic ailment called ‘Curse of the Second Half’, which practically means that a movie that floats around steadily with some promise in the initial phase rapidly nosedives in the second half – apparently, the director has a story in mind but is at his wit’s end on how to bring it to a grand finale and eventually, it takes the easy way out and embracing a conventional ending.

But there are also a few exceptions here – the ones that carry the rare disease of the ‘Curse of the First Half’ and ‘Tamaar Padaar’ is one such film. (Reminded me of Padmakumar’s Shikaar which had a limp 1st half but an engaging latter portion making me wonder whether the two halves of the movie were directed by two separate men, except ofcourse that TP doesn’t qualify as engaging by any stretch of imagination!).  Essentially, the First Half Curse movies have just a concept in mind but not the craft or the writing to create a 2 hour long drama with the script – so they move randomly sometimes aimlessly meandering (like in Tamaar Padaar) or like in a few others, playing safe and pandering to audience tastes till eventually the director wakes up and thrusts his vision (or lack of it) in front of our eyes. It must be told though that TP wakes up far too late to sustain any interest in its on-going drama.

In terms of a cinematic structure, the first half is entirely devoted to the shenanigans of two of its protagonists, Jumper Thambi (Baburaj) and Tubelight Mani (Chemban Vinod). Thambi is a solo circus performer attempting dare devil feats; he is a family man but lives a vagabond life and ventures to his family once a while. Mani is another street performer who is smitten with a prostitute, Valmsamma (Srinda Ashab) and tries to win her over into his meaningless existence. For about an hour or so, we are entreated to their story but the audience is left scratching their heads wondering what the fuss is all about. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear people walk out after the first half; this was clearly taking the audience for granted.

Is there a story waiting to be told? Are there any twists or turns around the corner? We are well and truly disappointed. There is absolutely nothing in the 1st half (except maybe a joke about celebrities getting away with animal slaughter) that keeps you even remotely engaged or tells you that the director has any tricks up his sleeve. Wasn’t this supposed to be a Prithviraj film or were we conned into paying to watch a guest appearance by the actor who has lately had a much more interesting selection of movies (with the exception of the disastrous London Bridge)? At the intermission, there is a small sigh of relief in the audience when he makes an appearance and a hope that the proceedings will show some life and thankfully they do (which of course isn’t really saying much considering the low benchmark set by the 1st half).

Post-interval, there is a bit more going in for TP, atleast when compared to the insipid first half. For starters, we know that there is a story waiting to be told and a slightly decent one too. It turns out that Dileesh Nair (the director) probably has in mind a black comedy dealing with bumbling cops, government officials, media, national security, capital punishment and what not instead of a ridiculous boring meandering caper of two street performers. In every sense of the word, Prithviraj is the hero of the movie as he literally rescues it and brings some sense of urgency to the plot or whatever is remaining of it.

Prithviraj is ACP Pouran who as a kid is inspired by the Suresh Gopi-blockbuster Commissioner to become a cop who will rid the city of evil, except ofcourse Bharath Chandran lived in another era where policemen ruled the city mercilessly while cynicism rules the current world. Pouran may be an IPS Officer but he isn’t the smartest of blokes and his attempts to do something substantial only result in failure. He goofs up while trying to nab the infamous Sukumara Kurup in a nice underplayed scene and paints himself a loser in the hands of the public when he stops a fleeing thief who apparently is accused of stealing 3 idlis!!! The disillusioned man makes blunders, including a major one involving Thambi and Mani, this is the turning point of the movie and he finally gets his redemption by sorting out the mess smartly.

It is fair to say that Pouran’s misadventures are far more entertaining than the lackadaisical events of Thambi and Mani. But it is far too late in the day to really redeem the movie that manages to successfully bury itself deep in a hole in the initial phase. I would have assumed that the movie has nothing to offer after a tepid beginning but the 2nd half progress makes me believe that the film could have worked a little if its structure were tweaked. Pauran’s story should have been the foundation of the plot interspersed with flashbacks of the vagabonds – this would have injected far more cohesion in the movie and connected the dots much better than crafting 2 halves which do not talk to each other. Of course, not to suggest that the movie would have emerged a winner by overhauling its flow but you could then presume that the creators atleast have the thread of a proper storyline which could be treated better in more capable hands.

One of the norms of movies that perceive themselves to be quirky is in the names of its characters and so the first check box is ticked by the script writer. But there isn’t really anything beyond that the script has to offer when it comes to the lives lived by Thambi and Mani. The day-to-day events in their existence do not really have any bearing on either their fate or that of the movie. Their characters do not really need any development that requires more than 60-75 mins of the screen space spent on that but the director is still more than happy to waste valuable time on it. Did the budding romance between Valsamma and Mani (including a song!) or the family life of Thambi mean anything at all to us?

Considering that these folks are hardly even present in the second half, why is there an attempt to create any emotional space for them? Isn’t it strange that the first half mainly deals with two persons and they are practically absent in most of the 2nd half. They may have just been two people whom we don’t even see and it would not have mattered even a bit. I don’t even want to refer to the silly scenes involving men visiting a temple in Kollam dressed as women or Thambi’s drinking binge or Mani’s goon friends. I, for one, am not able to figure out even remotely what was the idea behind the sloppy script and why Prithviraj would ever want to waste his time in such a movie which does not know what to say?

Nevertheless, even when he has a better grip of the storyline, Dileesh doesn’t appear to be sure as how to position the movie – as an absurd look at the system or an understated political satire. Prithviraj still manages to make you smile even when you feel a sense of disjointedness from the proceedings – like a scene where he goes to Thambi’s house after his arrest and it is only the way he handles it that injects some humour in it; something that works on screen but unlikely to have been funny on paper. For the kind of story that it eventually ends up being, I suppose it should have been treated as a wild over-the-top comedy (like Peruchazhi which should have been a satire instead) and it could have done better. There is a real lack of focus in what is to be shown and while there is a sense of relief that a story exists, it doesn’t really mean much – the cat has already bolted the door…

It does appear that the writers were trying to pull a con job on the poor audience (and maybe even Prithviraj) by making this movie and promoting this as a comedy (seriously?). Since Salt N’Pepper, Dileesh seems to moving rapidly downhill and TP underscores this in bold letters…

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Bangalore Days

As the opening lines of Anjali Menon’s enchanting Bangalore Days tells you, Bangalore is the utopia every Malayali youngster wishes to escape to in search of his dreams, away from the sluggish pace of Kerala. Shyamaprasad did appear to sell a similar idea to us in a rather morbid and clichéd form in Rithu but Anjali Menon’s film is far more promising in its portrayal of the so-called Bangalore crowd, making the characters far more likeable and easy to relate to.

Family is a recurrence in Anjali’s works. In her own words – “Friends are the family we choose is a theme in the film – in this case they happen to be cousins”. With cousins, there is a blend of friendship and family bonding and the nostalgia of growing up together in Kerala but lo behold, as time flies, life takes a much serious turn because all of a sudden, you have grown up. Yes, I take it that the intensity of this bond diminishes rapidly later on in life unlike in movies, where such friendships are perpetually renewed.

Three youngsters with a world full of expectations arrive in the city - Krishnan PP urf Kuttan (Nivin Pauly) who lands a software job in the city, chirpy Divya (Nazriya Nazim) who bids goodbye to her MBA dreams to settle down with Das (Fahad Fazil) in Bangalore and the enigmatic wanderer Arjun (Dulquer Salman) who is a graffiti artist-cum-bike racer and wants to keep his past firmly behind him. Life takes its own diversions and they find their lives thrown out of gear in contrasting ways until these detours help them discover their destiny.

Love in the city comes in many forms – For the naive Kuttan, it is an ephemeral emotion through the seductive charm of an airhostess who breezes her way into his life high up in the skies only to bring him down crashing with a bleeding nose. That is a nice little piece of writing involved here when Meenakshi (Isha Talwar) appears in front of ‘Cute’ Kuttan just the way he wanted his dream girl to appear. He later on discovers, in his own words drunk in the intoxication of cola (the cola reference brought back college memories!), that Love is like Santa Claus – a chimera that people create desperately in hope.

For the carefree Arjun, it is in the mysterious form of a paraplegic radio jockey, Sarah, through whose voice he discovers the true joys of life. This relationship is captivating and chimes quietly in our hearts as they feel the pulse that brings light to their lives. At no moment, is there an attempt to underscore her handicap and when she ambulates in her wheelchair, clutching his hand, you know there is nothing more to say and that the man now knows what he wants in life ("I don't want to walk behind you, I want to walk beside you"). It is wonderful to see a confident, young woman whose disability is not thrust on your face – think again and you realize he needs her emotional support more than she does. A positive differently-abled protagonist – when did we last see that?

In Divya’s case, the stars never give her an opportunity to fall in love before marriage – it is something that she has to discover for herself in a marriage with a man who confesses his inability to forget his past. She is the extrovert girl next door who is bursting with energy while Das is the dour, workaholic private individual whose space is extremely sacrosanct – whether it is a room that is always locked or even his computer password that he doesn’t share. There are rare glimpses when he drops his stoic guard like when her window painting brings in the early morning colours but it is a cold relationship and he does not allow her to enter his private space. In contrast to the freedom that she enjoys in the company of her cousins, there is an almost claustrophobic feeling that engulfs her, as she tries to overcome the loneliness created by the vacuum of Das’ emotional absence in her life. When he asks her cousins what was her age when she tried to pull a fast one on her mother, it brought a smile to my face – I liked the way the subtle admonishment is conveyed, without spelling it out.

The title Bangalore Days is misleading – it does not invoke either the city or urban life or nostalgia associated with it; place the three folks anywhere else and you would still have the same impact. The city does not have a presence or a character of its own say unlike Trivandrum in Ee Adutha Kalathu or Kozhikode in Ustad Hotel but I suppose the landscape must be an attempt to break away from the traditional outlook of the past which Kerala appears to represent and what better than to locate the story in a city that represents a lot of Malayali aspirations. Unlike Anjali’s Manjadikuru and Ustad Hotel which looks at the youngsters as they trace their way back to their roots, Bangalore Days represents a progression away from their past. Considering that most movies create a beautiful nostalgic feel of Kerala, such an image exists here only in the computer images of one of the principal actors.

There is an attempt to crack stereotypes and maybe creating this movie in Bangalore gives the film maker the freedom not to be bound by the conservativeness of the state. I loved the way that Anjali allowed Kuttan’s parents to free themselves from bondage. His parents find their calling in different ways; this part is real hilarious and delivered in an absolute nonchalant way – a father who wants to breathe after suffocating for years in marriage and a mother who finally gets an opportunity to break free from the confines of a tiny village and enjoy the thrills of living in a city, with television, kitty parties, pranayama and all the vagaries that urban life can present. This segment could have fallen flat in its execution but is deftly adapted on screen; especially enjoyed the scene where Kuttan reads and re-reads his father’s letter – how a perspective can change lives! This could easily have wound up as a tragic set of events but thanks to Anjali’s script, this becomes refreshingly funny and manages to break the parental stereotype in Malayalam in more ways than I had ever imagined.

Essentially, every youth film revolves around discovering one’s true love or is a coming-of-age movie. To that extent, Bangalore Days does not deviate from this template. It is an out-and-out youth film but there are no candy floss moments that litter many juvenile romantic takes or that BINGO moment, when the hero wakes up to his responsibilities. Love is in the air but it seeps through gradually without being over-burdened by the exuberance of the youngsters. While the early 20s can be fun, as time grows and people go their own ways, the same thrill of being with friends and maybe even alone is replaced by that pensive feeling of being burdened by the need to be mature and responsible in life – as Divya and Arjun gradually realize with their life partners or Kuttan discovers in the transformation that his parents undergo.

With Nivin and Dulquer getting the best lines in the movie, there isn’t any doubt who the show stealers are. Nivin has the funniest moments in the film and reminded me of Saif in Dil Chahta Hai, with his impeccable sense of comic timing. You positively detest Fahadh in the first half but empathize with him later on – he is an enigma, always taking on the not-so-liked characters but still managing to stay with us – the man has a knack of selecting good roles! Nazriya, possibly in her last film, is the perfect fit for the vivacious Divya without overdoing it (you know the Kareena-types) but I was pretty impressed by Parvathi Menon’s mature performance. Despite this humongous star cast, I was pleasantly surprised by her arresting presence in the film (a future star alert!).

For all the breezy nature of the film, I felt that the writing was uneven and inconsistent at times. The seriousness that was vested in dealing with the relationships of Arjun and Divya are absent in Kuttan’s case – his illusionary balloon of love and relationships is burst and presented in a light-hearted way but there is no real culmination of his feelings. I felt that the writing appeared to juggle intermittently between a lighter side and serious side, a little unsure at times where to navigate to.

Das’ background story is significant and the way it is eventually dealt with it is nice but the past did have a cinematic feel. Maybe, slightly less dramatic and it would still have worked just as well. Sure, the cousins are close but I am still reluctant to accept the close proximity (especially physical) between them – that’s the kind of stuff that I have seen only in movies. Arjun has very little contact with his parents and no proper source of income but his appearances hardly reflect this – an almost Wake Up Sid moment that! At 173 minutes duration, this is a fairly long movie but truth be told, this isn't much of a problem. You could snip a few minutes here and there and the songs, trim some of the racing moments, but that’s all.

For a movie that sets out to be fun and entertaining, there isn't much more that you can ask for and looking at the audience trooping in large numbers at the theatres, Anjali Menon has definitely struck gold here…Do we have the Kerala equivalent of Dil Chahta Hai here finally?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How Old Are You

Manju Warrier is back and how! Rosshan Andrrews' How Old Are You brings back Manju to the silver screen after a decade and half and one of Malayalam cinema’s most-loved actresses makes a spirited return as a middle-aged woman restoring her identity and finding new direction in life. This easily is one of the more anticipated movies this year and to that extent, there is a sense of mild nostalgia, coupled with a sense of satisfaction that her re-launch vehicle is the perfect one for the occasion.

How Old Are You (HOAY), follows the ‘boring’ middle-class life of Nirupama Rajeev (Manju Warrier), a 36-year old UD clerk in the revenue department. Her life comprises a run-of-the-mill government job which she has been doing for the past 15 years, her family and colleagues, after she settles down and adjusts herself to the reality of a post-marital life. Her husband Rajeev (Kunchacko Boban) who works with All India Radio, and her high school daughter Lakshmi (Amritha Anil), have big dreams in life and want to migrate to Ireland to carve a new life for them.

Like most women who have sacrificed a lot of their dreams for their family, Nirupama has also undergone a transformation. From Susan (Kaniha), Nirupama’s one-time friend and now a high flying private employee, we know that she was a fiery young woman during her college days, who invited the wrath of the college authorities and even police during her protests but never backed down. Her old teacher recollects that she had expected her to scale new heights and her college autograph book which she often reads out to her daughter is testimony to the accolades and expectations of her friends.

Again, like most women, while she may have sacrificed her dreams, it isn't something that her husband or daughter really appreciate. It is treated as a matter-of-fact thing that all women have to do and so she finds herself reduced to an embarrassment for them, who can be dispensed with– Rajeev feels that his wife is too intellectually-challenged to contribute or appreciate his work while Lakshmi doesn't think too highly of her mother’s caliber either.

It doesn't help that when situations arise where she can contribute, she panics and allows herself to be made an object of ridicule. She collapses when she plays badminton at her daughter’s school due to high BP or  faints when she goes to meet the President of India (Quiz Master Siddhartha Basu in a cameo), who sends her an invitation to have breakfast with, after he is impressed with one of questions asked by her daughter in school.

Bobby-Sanjay’s script hits a lot of right notes in observing and highlighting Nirupama’s dilemmas, even though they rush it up a bit in completing the orchestra. Nirupama’s boredom is not conveyed in her words – she troops in late to office or is untouched when she sends away a pensioner without getting his work resolved. A stand-out scene is where Nirupama visits an old woman (Sethulakshmi) whom she meets every day in bus. They don't even know each other’s names but one day Nirupama turns up at her house when she knows she is sick. When the old woman talks of her loneliness, she probably imagines sees herself in that situation years later. Another that comes to the mind is the sharp exchange between the couple when Rajeev returns to take her to Ireland because they are unable to manage without her– she tells him to expect from her only what was given to her and she cannot be a free backup for a maid.

What works for HOAY primarily is the fact that as an audience, we can easily relate to the happenings on the screen. Nirupama’s travails in life are not just hers but also that of many women who have given up a lot of their dreams, to build a safe nest for their family. It is a grossly under-appreciated role that she plays in our lives but which we take for granted. She may not be the principal bread-winner but hers is a silent invisible presence that ensures that we can go about in our lives, without being too concerned of what happens at home. As Nirupama says, the price of vegetables may be an irrelevant topic of discussion but it is important to her; if one day, there is extra spice in her husband’s food, the same innocuous food would become a matter of concern.

While the first half underscores her issues in life, there is an entertaining but ambling flow in these trivialities. The entire Meet-the-President routine is genuinely funny, especially her mother-in-law’s innocent queries on the nature of the meeting, her attempts to cash-in on her new-found celebrity status to make others’ jealous, her dazed sojourn into the Presidential suite and finally her collapse after the President greets her.  Amidst all these funny moments, there is also the heartburn of realizing how little respect she commands in the eyes of her father and teenage daughter.

The second half, however, goes a bit more pedantic and eventually HOAY becomes a nice feel-good film, with a liberal dosage of cinematic moments that are not very convincing. The transformation into a more confident women is fine but the events around her gallop more briskly than you’d accept and while this ensures that the scripts keeps a fast pace, it does leave one asking for more credibility in the rapid turn of events.  While she makes a spirited speech for organic vegetables in an Architects’ conference and the Minister is more than impressed to offer her the stewardship to run such a campaign across the state, there isn't anything shown to convey her ability to manage any of this.  Also, it isn't as if Kerala hasn't really heard of either organic vegetables or terrace farming, so the reaction of the people around her goes rather overboard.

Manju Warrier easily seeps into the character of Nirupama who has lost her individuality and self-confidence as she struggles to juggle between a teenage daughter and a husband who takes her for granted. Her makeup however is a bit more conspicuous and never for a moment, do you actually see a freckled or worn-out Nirupama – would appear that Manju was peeping out of the screen sometimes, instead of Nirupama.

Manju retains a lot of her impish charm that won over many hearts in Kerala and she is the heart and soul of the movie. She remains Malayalam cinema’s favourite actress and the audience is sure to warm up to her performance as she tugs at our heart strings. Her moments of despair, her meekness and self-doubt are all experienced by us too but it begs a question as to whether parts of this film actually mirror her real life! When Susan asks her where her confident old self has gone, it does appear that this is a question that is being asked to the real and not reel Manju Warrier.

It is a pleasant surprise to see Kunchacko Boban appearing as a proper MCP husband who is over-shadowed entirely by the charming Manju.  There might be a few who might think that Rosshan should have cast someone who looks a bit more elder to her but that looks like a conditioned response by the audience (would appear that the dialogue where an elder woman in the bus asks her if Rajeev is her brother was inserted in anticipation of such an observation). Eventually, there is a bit of a cop out because while he uses her at every juncture (when his car meets with an accident or when he emotionally blackmails her to come to Ireland), there is no scene indicating his final acceptance or understanding of her position in the family. I would have been happy to see the writers give enough space where she is able to communicate her dreams to both her husband and her daughter and they are able to see it.

Thematically, HOAY bears a strong resemblance to Sridevi’s English Vinglish, in terms of a woman’s struggle to assert her identity, amidst a family that under-values her.  But that’s where the similarity ends and this is by no means an ‘inspired’ work – each woman brings to the fore her own efforts to recognize and make her own way through her inner conflicts. You could call it a women-centric film but then the thought pre-supposes that gender rights and equality are topics relevant only to one gender. Yes, the thrust is on women but the rights of both partners matter and her final decision to stay back and work is a courageous decision that is conveyed with brevity. Personally, I think this is a movie you must go along with your wife and not just alone; there are a few moments that every family will relate to.

As a woman, she has never questioned the status-quo and her position in the family but when faced with a real opportunity to come out of her cocoon and excel, she fumbles initially but recovers thanks to the support from multiple quarters and emerges a stronger woman. The question How Old Are You is no longer relevant now…

Thursday, May 15, 2014

God's Own Country

The phrase God's Own Country is probably Kerala’s most successful tagline. Our chests swell in pride (not the 56’ one) at the successful marketing of the state’s natural beauty but privately many smirk at how a naturally endowed state has become a laggard, especially when compared to our immediate hard working neighbour. As a protagonist remarks in the movie which goes by the same name, Kerala was not coined as God's Own Country by the Gods but by fellow humans!

Considering that hyperlink movies have made a splash in new generation Malayalam cinema, it isn't surprising that many directors are attracted to this kind of story- telling. Here the focus is inevitably more on the narrative devices instead of say the emotional or melodrama moments that drives the plot in most movies. The obsession for the narrative obfuscates the real plot many a times but thankfully, Vasudev Sanal’s God's Own Country manages a fine balance because it has fairly well-defined plot lines that intersect at times but are very capable of standing as independent credible tales that take their own routes.

Fahadh Faasil is Manu Krishna, a Dubai-based NRI. He lands in Kochi with his baby daughter to pay the blood money that would rescue his wife Asha (Isha Talwar), who is in a Dubai prison after a car accident. Manu is supported by his writer-friend Abhirami (Mythili) to get the deal done but it all goes topsy-turvy when the money goes missing. The hapless husband with his crying baby and his friend spend the entire day attempting to recover this money.

Sreenivasan is Public Prosecutor Mathen Tharakan who is in charge of a sensational rape case of a minor (whose name is used freely in all public utterances despite the obvious fact this is not allowed in India) that has shaken the conscience of the State. Nandu as Ettumanoor MLA Vakkachan is one of the prime accused and Mathen enlists the support of Vakkachan’s wife Serena (Lena) to give crucial evidence that will nail her husband. It isn’t the easiest of things to do and the plot focuses on the day when Mathen smartly smuggles Serena out of her house and take her to court.

Lal appears as a taxi driver Mohammed who desperately needs six lakhs for the operation of his daughter. The surgery needs to be arranged the same day otherwise the hospital would discharge her; with no help in hand, he looks at the fastest way to raise money for the treatment, in this eventful day in all their lives.

Despite the presence of multiple threads in GOC, the script does not waver and sticks to its course, with very few roadblocks. The script is backed by solid performances, extending to the large supporting cast who have minor but important roles to play, whether it is the Tamilian lottery seller, the honest auto-driver and his partner, the gangster duo of Arjun and Zakeer or the cops.

GOC traces its DNA to Passenger and Traffic in the way the movie is shot and its attempt to weave a larger social picture to the happenings. At times, the attempt to provide social commentary is all too evident but thankfully, it doesn't act as a party pooper on too many occasions (except like when it brings in the licentious book publisher). Like most ‘social-cinema’, the screenplay has a soft corner for the under-privileged who comes off with much more credibility than the high and the mighty. The Tamilian lottery seller is looked down with contempt and suspicion but he turns out to be the most trustworthy and helpful man in the situation. The prostitute and auto-driver are traditionally the characters with golden hearts and they are no exception here but they manage to pull off their parts well, without necessarily fitting into this stereotype.

I am not too sure whether the idea of three protagonists, all of different religions was done deliberate but maybe it fits along with the overall social image of the film (Also interesting is that the actors who played these three roles are also of different religions themselves). Some of the social communication is deftly conveyed with brevity like the absence of family support for Manu/Asha because of their inter-religious marriage (Ummachi kuttiye  Nair kettiyathu cinemayil kandappol ellavarum kayiadichu pakshe jeevithathil aayappol... – a nod to the presence of Isha Talwar in the movie), spending patterns of the average Keralite and the growing mistrust towards migrant workers while some messages are packaged more explicitly (even if less effective) like land re-settlement issues or the road accident menace in the state.

What unsettled me at a few points in the movie was the refusal of the director to underplay any of the scenes in the film. Take Abhirami’s accident scene which in her elaborate slow-motion tumble appeared rather grotesque – the impact of the scene is a lot bloodier than I think the director must have wanted to show. Or say when Mathen talks of the rape of the minor girl; there isn't really a need to show that the crime was done by focussing on her expressions and the bare backs of the men repeatedly coming in (though the scene was pretty brief). The point is that the rape is not the main theme of the movie and showing its cruelty is not relevant to the movie then the why the need to shoot the scene in that fashion.

Yes, this is a multi-narrative thriller and so all the links are not clear at the very beginning but over a period of time, as the story slowly unravels, the dots are all joined. But the director wants to be doubly sure that the audience doesn't really miss out on the connections and so there are deliberate explanations done – almost a kind of baby feeding that isn't really needed. Like when Mathen escapes by driving the car along the police station; the next shot of a muddy road behind the station clearly suggests how they escaped, then why the need for a slow motion explicitly showing the escape. Similarly, slow motion frames which show how the bag is stolen from Abhirami’s car or eventually returns to Manu’s hands could have been avoided.

For a film that did not intend to showcase Fahadh Faasil’s macho-presence on the screen, I was a little puzzled when the director filmed elaborate action sequences instead of quick encounters that would have produced the same effect. His fights with the money carriers and agents walking straight into their den was out of place while the final sequence with one of the henchmen (with a poor baby in hand) was way over the top. After all this, when Manu showers currency notes from the top of the building for the agitators below, I wasn't quite able to fathom the reason for this action.

GOC has 2-3 songs which do not distract from the flow, but the BGM disappoints and it is pretty loud at times. It scores in its well-orchestrated action scenes like Zakir’s chase scene and subsequent fight with the other goons but the same thing comes unstuck when it is done by Manu. The ending struck a mild false note, in my opinion. Considering that their family and friends had abandoned them after the accident that happened with the friends around after a New Year cocktail party, the final shot of them celebrating in another party did give a sense of déjà vu – a quieter gathering would have been more reassuring.

In all fairness, most of this criticism is not a deal breaker but what could have taken the movie a notch higher. The debutante scriptwriters Arun Gopinath, Anish Francis and Praveen have succeeded in making the movie a workable, edge of the seat thriller with the right dosage of social messaging that helps its cause. It might be overdone slightly at times but at the end of the day if the movie is trimmed by around say 15 mins, it is a fine effort alright…