I made a very foolish decision and went to see this movie on Sunday night before getting up early on Monday. And on a full moon night. And then I got lost on the way home. It was a weird evening, is what I am saying, and that is even without watching this very very strange film.
This is a very ambitious film. Perhaps impossibly ambitious, it tries to combine a statement on history, a statement on film, on politics, and on human nature, all with dusting of WWII and the INA on top. Oh, and maybe also a statement on Dileep’s real life person. Not clear.
On the one hand, I respect the ambition, I like to see a film that tries to be more than the run of the mill story. And it achieves the broad outlines of its goals, I get the cynical statement on politics and history and a refreshingly dark view of the WWII era. But on the other hand, it really really drags as the time goes on. I kind of got the point already, and then the point just keeps being repeated and repeated and repeated.
The other problem, which I think is just sort of built into the concept of the film, is that it feels terribly unbalanced. The first half is unrelentingly terribly dark, culminating in a horrific sequence of terrible things. And then the second half is completely superficial and full of dark comedy. It’s supposed to be like that, we are supposed to have the whiplash feeling of the incredibly bleak reality versus the cynical modern version. But it might be more whiplash than the audience can handle. A brave attempt to shock the audience into certain realizations, but perhaps too shocking to make a strong movie.
Something that was not a problem was the casting of Dileep. This is perhaps the perfect role for him. Both as an actor and a public figure. The first half leans on his speciality, humorously playing two sides against each other. The second half leans on his personal charisma and onscreen confidence as an older star. And the whole thing works perfectly (coincidentally or on purpose, I don’t know, even before the recent scandal it seems like the film industry itself must have known Dileep as an extremely powerful and somewhat unscrupulous person) with Dileep’s current public issues.
Siddharth is…okay. Very very handsome, very very earnest. And he has a great line making fun of his Bhagat Singh role in Rang De Basanti. It’s a less interesting part, mostly. He plays the perfect noble type figure for most of the film, but there are a few moments when he gets to play a ridiculous villain caricature, and he has one scene at the very end that is really tricky and lovely. So I guess he is better than I gave him credit for! He suffered through the boring role and really brought it when he had to in the fun bits.
Namitha Pramod I was excited about, hoping she would have something interesting to do. And she does not, not at all. Very boring. If you were hoping for a complicated strong female character, it’s not her. It is Shweta Menon. Well, not exactly “complicated”, but certainly fun to watch and I am sure also fun to play!
(Event his song was cut, that’s how little Namitha time there is)
Murali Gopy, the screenwriter for this movie, is also in the mix as one of the many many many characters. That’s not a problem with the movie, it expertly juggles all the different moving pieces of the setting and the characters within it, I could keep track of them all easily. If anything, I wanted even more characters. Or at least more time spent with other characters, Dileep did kind of overshadow the film.
It’s a first time director, and it shows a little, but mostly it doesn’t matter who directed the movie because it is Murali’s film above all. I looked him up when I got home and realized I already had seen one of his movies, Left Right Left, which I found COMPLETELY confusing. This one is more about general Indian history rather than specific Kerala politics, so I could follow it better. Although I am guessing I still missed a whole bunch of Kerala specific stuff.
Overall, this is a tricky film. It’s not an easy watch. It’s disturbing in a lot of ways, disturbing in content, disturbing in the experience of watching as it swings between emotions, and disturbing in the very dark and cynical ending. And disturbing because it goes on a little too long and repeats a little too much. But it’s also a unique film, I can’t think of anything else really like it. So if you feel like being disturbed by art, this might be worth a watch.