‘9’ Movie Review: The Father, the Son and the Unholy Guest!

 

 

Prithviraj’s latest movie,  ‘9’, does start off with an exciting premise. The earth is about to witness a rare cosmic event, one that involves a comet passing through the earth at such a close distance that it would leave the world without electricity, internet or any communication for the next nine days.

So, when his mentor Dr Inayat Ali (played by Prakash Raj) offers an opportunity to do some research on the comet from the Himalayas, astrophysicist Albert Lewis (Prithvi) grabs it immediately and lands up at the high peaks with a handpicked team of four members.

Also, with him is his seven-year-old son, Adam. Albert, being a single parent, has been having trouble in keeping the young lad on the right track. So, he decides to take the boy along during this research expedition.

On the first day of the comet’s presence, Albert ends up running into a mysterious woman in the woods. He brings the unconscious woman back to his resort. The following day, the woman (Wamiqa Gabbi) introduces herself as Eva and informs that she got lost in the forests while on a similar trip with her friends to check out the comet. She does hit it off well with both Albert as well as his son, Adam.

But something about the new visitor seems strange and the following nine days is about how the equations between the father, son and their new ‘guest’ change throughout these days.

nine000

It cannot be argued that Prithviraj is trying to give the Malayalam film industry, usually known for superb content but with limited budget constraints, a leap to the big league. With much more technical and production quality, it is a sincere attempt to tap into a bigger market beyond the boundaries of the state. And this co-venture with a big player like Sony Pictures is an excellent example of the same.

However, the problem comes when the storytelling attempt looks more inspired as opposed to saying something original and homegrown. And it has become a common streak in the actor’s recent choices. As he tackles ghosts, serial-killers, cults, supernatural beings etc., the flashes of originality or even attempt to finely adapt to the local milieu goes missing. One wishes the focus is kept more on telling our stories well to the world rather than compromising into telling their stories to stand out.

Director Jenuse Mohammed, despite the different yet promising sci-fi touches, steers the whole thing down the alleys of familiarity. After all the talks about humans headed back to bonding with nature, the movie never really stops to address those aspects. Instead, the genre slowly shifts, and elements of science get traded in favour of supernatural elements.  And the grip over the audience begins to loosen.

It is fair enough to tackle different genres. But if it is horror, there needs to have a proper atmospheric building. And that is never going to happen with the incessant background score (Sekhar Menon) like this one has.  The beauty of silence in such sequences is matchless to amplify the fear and creep factor. But that is not opted for here, and it fails to engage the audience.

Another point is it science-fiction, horror, fantasy -whatever the genre, there is a certain logic within the movie that must be followed and respected. For example, if a character can fly through windows, you do not expect them to struggle with a closed door in the next scene. Or for here, you have a character swooping in on another on a cycle but has issues in chasing down a young lad on foot.

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The results are mixed. Because technically the movie has everything going for it. Be it the stunning visuals from Abhinandan Ramanujam or the exemplary sound design. Even the VFX work is quite good (barring the wolf, of course). But Jenuse’s writing proves to be a downer. For a film that is said to revolve around the father-son bonding, there is hardly any importance or time given to develop this aspect. They do try to reason it out with an exposition towards the climax, but it never really convinces you. From a narration point, it should have been told from either the father’s point of view or the son’s. But the film tries to do both and eventually as a viewer, we are not invested in either predicament.

But the choices the makers make only add to the problems. The director then tries to make it even more profound by throwing more genre-busting moves towards the climax. It helps in covering up some of the flaws but also reveals new ones. Especially a scene where the character goes shopping raises a question on the validity of the whole theory.

Performance wise Prithvi seems to be resorting to his trademark mannerisms and reactions, merely playing to the script but never to his strengths. The actor we saw in Koode is nowhere in sight. Mamta Mohandas and Prakash Raj have nothing much to do in their cameos. Master Alok does well with his role, while Wamiqa Gabbi manages to shine but both suffer from sluggish writing and equally flat dialogues.

The solace is that 9 (nine) keeps to its promise of being a one of a kind theatrical experience for Malayalam films with its technical prowess. Yet it frustratingly falters on two of the biggest strengths of the industry – content and acting.  And as far as the talks about it being a unique sci-fi offering, the closest it gets is with the black hole, it manages to create in its script!

 

NINE (Malayalam)

Cast: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Master Alok, Wamiqa Gabbi, Prakash Raj and Mamta Mohandas

Written and Directed by Jenuse Mohamed

Music by Shaan Rehman

Produced by Prithviraj Productions in association with Sony Pictures India

 

Rating:  2.5

 

Two Countries Movie Review: A Breezy Festive Entertainer Which Serves its Purpose

I need to begin this post with an apology; this was to be originally written and published a few weeks ago but got delayed for unavoidable reasons. Nevertheless Two Countries is continuing to play in theatres in Kerala and a few cities outside and I see no reason to delay the review any more. Incidentally the film is still going strong and has now completed 50 days of release in Kerala. Its Telugu remake rights have just been bagged by Bandla Ganesh; perhaps we might see a few more similar announcements over the next few weeks as well. Two Countries was one of the 4 Christmas releases of 2015 and has easily gone on to be the winner, turning to be a positive outing at the box office for everyone concerned with the film. For director Shafi whose previous two films, Venicile Vyapari (2011) and 101 Weddings (2012) turned out to be disappointing, Two Countries has brought him back into the limelight.Continue reading “Two Countries Movie Review: A Breezy Festive Entertainer Which Serves its Purpose”

Varsham Movie Review: An Emotional Journey that Hooks You Smoothly

Leading a family life i.e. being married and later on becoming a parent isn’t easy at all. What looks routine and mundane to many, is actually a daunting task in my opinion. Yes it’s a stage in life that most people go through, whether by choice or design or both. And everyone handles it differently. But does becoming a husband/wife and later on a father/mother change the way you think? Does it affect the way you interact with the rest of your family and friends, or the people around you overall? Does it take away or add anything to your personality overall? And if you change as a person, is it for better or worse? These are some odd thoughts which have always struck my mind in some form or fashion at various times, but now I feel it’s all the more relevant to reflect upon all these things having watched writer-director Ranjith Sankar’s latest Malayalam film over the weekend, Varsham.Continue reading “Varsham Movie Review: An Emotional Journey that Hooks You Smoothly”

Thoughts on Mammootty and ‘Varsham’

Varsham is my latest (Malayalam) feature film which got released this week (November 6th onwards) in Kerala, major centres across India and also in various locations overseas. I am overwhelmed with all the box office reports and the reviews coming in from all kinds of sources. Obviously while I am pleased and happy to acknowledge all this, I also feel this is the right time to reflect back upon working with the one & one only Mammootty aka Mammukka while making Varsham.Continue reading “Thoughts on Mammootty and ‘Varsham’”

Varsham: Trailer

Varsham Poster 3Writer-director Ranjith Sankar has been on a high with his last 2 Malayalam films, Molly Aunty Rocks (2012) and Punyalan Agarbathis (2013) doing well critically and commercially. He now returns with his latest film, Varsham which sees him working with Mammootty for the first time. Produced jointly by Ranjith Sankar and Mammootty, Varsham has music by Bijibal while Manoj Pillai is the DOP and Sagar Das the editor. The star cast apart from Mammootty includes Asha Sarath, Mamta Mohandas, Govind Padmasoorya, T.G. Ravi, Sunil Sukhada etc. Varsham is due for release on 6th November.Continue reading “Varsham: Trailer”

My Best Of Regional and World Cinema In 2013

Yet another hectic and eventful year at the movies comes to an end. Every year we see films which we love, hate, abhor, feel indifferent towards. And this year has been no indifferent.

As the year draws to an end, every film buff (including yours truly) loves making a compilation of films under various such categories (good films, bad films etc)

As a movie buff this year too was no different.  There were some films, which made for pleasurable viewing while some films induced sheer boredom and made for a rather tedious viewing.  Regional cinema (esp. Tamil and Malayalam films) in my opinion once again reiterated that they are churning out films which are different from the regular fares, yet makes for some good viewing  while being commercially viable .

Besides there were a lot of foreign language films which made all the right noises amongst movie buffs and the film festival circuits.

So here goes my list of best films in the foreign films and regional cinema section.

Too many films and too little time has been the bane of every film buff. As always there were quite a few films I wanted to watch but could not due to various reasons. So in case you do not find a particular favourite of yours mentioned in this list, kindly excuse me. 🙂
Continue reading “My Best Of Regional and World Cinema In 2013”

Celluloid Movie Review: A Tribute Movie of a Special Kind

Celluloid movie poster
Celluloid movie poster

Against the backdrop of films like Lincoln being under the spotlight we keep hearing of why there are very few biopics in India getting made of late. In fact it’s true that Paan Singh Tomar was one of the rare biopics in India last year and a rather good one at that. This post is not about exploring the scenario of biopics in India (we can save that for another day) but to acknowledge a really well made biopic in Malayalam, Celluloid. Continue reading “Celluloid Movie Review: A Tribute Movie of a Special Kind”

Celluloid: Trailer

Veteran Malayalam filmmaker Kamal is now all set to present before us his latest film, Celluloid starring Prithviraj and Mamta Mohandas in the lead roles. Celluloid is a biopic based on the life and times of J.C.Daniel, considered to be the Father of Malayalam Cinema. Continue reading “Celluloid: Trailer”

Arike Movie Review: In Quest of Love

You step into a Shyamaprasad movie, thinking here’s another angst-ridden story that you are going to experience. There are signs that your fears may be true – there is a lonely woman with a tragic past who has no expectations in life and is confronted by various men in her life, you are prepared for the worst but you are pleasantly mistaken. An almost breezy, under-played romance lights up your screen and while its culmination is a deviation from its initial path, the subject is not so heavy to make you squirm or twitch – it simply makes you reflect on what love could mean.Continue reading “Arike Movie Review: In Quest of Love”