Huh. Well, this just barely didn’t work. All the separate parts worked, but they somehow didn’t come together in a way that made for optimal impact. I think I might have to blame the director.
I know this is based on a really good Kannada film. A Kannada film that I cannot watch because I cannot find a copy of it ANYWHERE. Very frustrating. But working backwards from the evidence in this movie, I can see that it would have been a very good film. This film has wonderful narrative construction, and interesting unique characters, that’s all great. It’s just the execution of it all that failed, and that execution is exactly the kind of thing that can be lost when you change directors/cast/industries.
I have to compare it with Lucia/Enakkul Oruvan where I was able to see both versions. And both versions were worthwhile on their own. Lucia was the smoother version, the simpler in some ways with the rough edges worn down. But it also had its own unique take on things, the images were similar but slightly different in a way that told me the direct had a vision for this film, a vision of his own not just an awkward attempt to mimic someone else. But that was not the case here.
The whole film felt kind of like seeing someone wear borrowed clothes. They aren’t exactly wrong, but they aren’t right either, they were clearly picked out to fit someone else. It’s a first time director, so maybe he doesn’t have his own unique look yet and he is trying on other people’s, but I would recommend in that case he at least try an original story done in the style of someone else, instead of borrowing a very personal story and a very personal directing style. The original, it was not just written by the director, he even starred in it! It was completely a Rakshit Shetty production, and it would be very hard for someone else to take that over.
Speaking of starring, this is of course also my beloved Nivin’s first Tamil film. He does……okay. He is a little hampered, again, by it not really being “his” character. I may not have even been able to see that, if I didn’t love him so much. But comparing it with even something like Thattathin Marayathu, which wasn’t the greatest role or the greatest film, but was clearly designed for him, and you can see that something is missing. He does a good job playing the role, but it doesn’t let him show off his own particular charm, what makes him special as an actor. And therefore it is not a good introduction for him to the Tamil audience. If I were seeing him for the first time in this film, I would think “he’s a good actor, but I’m not really in love with him.”
And it could have been altered so easily! The point of the narrative is two-fold. The neat dovetailing of the multiple perspectives and plots so that, by the end, you can see how everything fits in one to the other. And the power and tragedy of forgiveness.
This director somehow wasn’t able to bring out that power and tragedy of forgiveness, not in the right way. So I would have told him to go home, live with the script for a while, and make it his own. Change the stories just a little, however he wanted, to bring that message out the way he wanted to bring it out. And then come back and shoot the film that was his film, that still had the 5 stories, but make the way they played out something that had meaning for him, something he was excited about shooting.
And I would have told Nivin to look at his character, get deep in to that mindset and who this was, and then write his own monologue, his own something, just to make him special, make him Nivin-y
In the end, that would have made this a better movie for everyone. A better first film for the director, a better first Tamil film for Nivin, and a better film for the audience, who would feel like they were getting something new and original, instead of a tired retread of a better version that wasn’t available to them. The frozen grocery store samosa version of a movie.
(This. I’ve gotten them, and they end up just making you really really want a “real” samosa)