‘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.

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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

 

Naam Shabana Movie Review: Bringing Up Baby

When it comes to spoon-feeding audiences, mainstream Bollywood is way ahead of the curve, and there are occasions where this tendency of the industry to test the patience with unnecessary exposition can be downright offensive. Therefore it was a rather pleasant surprise in Baby, when the audience anticipating a roaring rampage of rescue from Akshay Kumar ended up witness to a subverted trope where the supposed damsel in distress played by Taapsee Pannu ends up beating the daylights out of the crook they are pursuing. So it was a pleasant surprise when the prequel to Baby, exploring the origins of Taapsee’s character, Shabana, was announced. But is Shabana’s journey from schoolgirl to spy a worthy tale?Continue reading “Naam Shabana Movie Review: Bringing Up Baby”

James and Alice Movie Review: Can a Relationship Work with a Second Chance?

Isn’t it an amazing feeling to fall in love with someone? Those tender moments that you encounter which make you go weak in your knees every time you see your beloved. When hours pass by without hearing from your lover and as you get frantic, looking at your mobile phone again and again for any trace of a missed call, SMS or a WhatsApp message. You do things that you otherwise would never have done before, so what if some of them later on dawn upon you as “painkili” or mushy :). Whatever be the challenge in front of you, be it related to academics, job or anything else, everything pales in significance before your love and your beloved. It’s almost as if life has come to a standstill, and there’s only one active window in front of you. Come on, haven’t you all (or at least most of you) gone through all this? Some of you have even perhaps gone on to get married to the person whom you were in love with, so does the romance continue the same way after the wedding is over?Continue reading “James and Alice Movie Review: Can a Relationship Work with a Second Chance?”

Paavada Movie Review: A Tale of Alcoholism and Soft Porn Films That’s Effective and Non Sleazy

The Malayalee obsession with booze is something that by now people across the Country and perhaps even overseas are aware of. With all the drama over the closure of bars and the recurrent courtroom battles over the same, even those who weren’t aware of Kerala being the highest alcohol consuming state in India, now know the same. No wonder that the topic is subtly being touched upon in films as well, after all for a state that has always looked at drinking as a social past time, it’s not really easy to show scenes of drinking in bars in Malayalam cinema now. Another topic that has some special relevance to the state of Kerala is that of soft porn films, after all this is a phenomena which has been in existence for a very long time, even having its own periods of highs and lows to talk of. Now when someone attempts a film which in a way brings a connection between these two aspects, how would you expect the film to be? If your answer is boisterous, raunchy and maybe even crass, well then that’s exactly what G.Marthandan’s Paavada is not.
Continue reading “Paavada Movie Review: A Tale of Alcoholism and Soft Porn Films That’s Effective and Non Sleazy”

The Best of Malayalam Cinema in 2015: A Perspective

At the very outset while I do feel that 2015 wasn’t an exceptional year for Malayalam Cinema, there were some interesting films and certain interesting trends were noticed as well. The number of releases overall dipped a bit this year, with an overall number of 153 releases (140 straight and 13 dubbed releases) compared to 163 last year. There were disruptions to the movie business seen in the form of the exhibitors association shutting down the theatres in Kerala on 2 separate occasions. While in July we saw a strike (thankfully only for a day) due to protest over the piracy controversy surrounding Alphonse Putharen’s Premam, we saw the the Christmas releases being threatened thanks to the strike over the Government’s decision to introduce a Rs. 3 cess on tickets intended to be used for helping poor artists of the industry with a monthly pension. There were quite a few films which saw success at the box office, including 3 bonafide blockbusters, all of them bringing in a fresh aspect of filmmaking.Continue reading “The Best of Malayalam Cinema in 2015: A Perspective”

Anarkali Movie Review: Old Fashioned Romantic Tale Yet Fresh and with a lot of Zing

Falling in love and willing to wait endlessly for your beloved isn’t something new to us Indians.There seems to be some satisfaction even in waiting, painful it indeed is but the very prospect of their love emerging triumphant keeps them going. For them distances are not a problem at all, being unable to meet or talk to their dear one doesn’t dampen their spirits. Are such people for real? Does it even make sense in today’s times to give up everything for love? Irrespective of sceptics questioning the sanity of such people, by and large even today there seems to be something in these tales which appeals to a majority of the people. What else can explain the phenomenal response to R.S.Vimal’s blockbuster, Ennu Ninte Moideen which is still playing in a few theatres in Kerala. Now that Sachy’s Anarkali has released and has already been declared a hit, there seems to be some validation of people supporting and believing in such tales of love.Continue reading “Anarkali Movie Review: Old Fashioned Romantic Tale Yet Fresh and with a lot of Zing”

Amar Akbar Anthony (2015) Movie Review: A Social Movie Masked as a Fun Entertainer

There was a time in the early 1990’s when Malayalam cinema saw a lot of comedy films getting made, mostly having multiple leads.  Those films excelled as the actors in the lead roles themselves had a great sense of comic timing and the bonhomie between them on the screen in most cases looked very genuine. I can think of various films as examples including Ramji Rao Speaking, Mannar Mathai Speaking and In Harihar Nagar. So popular did these films go on to become that they are still remembered fondly by people and evoke nostalgia when played even now on any of the Malayalam satellite channels. A lot of these films would even have some serious topic at its core but then it would always be masked in the garb of a fun film, never ending up heavy and quite pleasing the audience. The latest Malayalam entertainer, Amar Akbar Anthony is a film which makes me remember those buddy films of the 90’s in many ways.Continue reading “Amar Akbar Anthony (2015) Movie Review: A Social Movie Masked as a Fun Entertainer”

Amar Akbar Anthony: Trailer

Amar Akbar Anthony PosterActor Nadirshah turns director with the Malayalam film Amar Akbar Anthony (no connection to the Manmohan Desai classic) which is produced by Dr.Zachariah Thomas and Alwin Antony. Written by Bibin George and Vishnu Unnikrishnan,this comedy entertainer features Prithviraj, Indrajith and Jayasurya in the lead along with Namitha Pramod, KPAC Lalitha, Kalabhavan Shajon Saju Navodaya, Bindu Panicker etc. Songs are composed by Nadirshah while BGM is by Bijibal, Sujith Vassuudev is the DOP and Johnkutty is the editor. Continue reading “Amar Akbar Anthony: Trailer”

Ennu Ninte Moideen Movie Review: A Timeless Tale of Love

I have always been a die-hard romantic like so many of you out there and grew up on a staple diet of romantic tales, derived from literature and cinema. Whenever I would think of those classic love stories like Romeo-Juliet, Heer-Ranjha, Shirin-Farhad, Dhola-Maru, Devdas etc I have always wondered whether such romantic tales are practical in today’s times. But then these tales seem to be certainly having many takers, why else do we find adaptations of Romeo-Juliet and Devdas happening time and again? When I watched Yash Chopra’s Veer Zara I again felt what’s the reason that makes Veer and Zara remain in love for so many years, despite being separated and not even knowing if they will ever get to be with each other. The film may have been a typical YRF vehicle, but it was special in many ways especially for the way the romance between Veer and Zara was projected. Time and again I ask myself what would make someone wait so much for his/her beloved, what is it about love that could make one attempt to survive amidst all odds, why would go out of the way to live, breathe and celebrate love? R.S. Vimal’s Ennu Ninte Moideen is a film which makes me think of all these once again.Continue reading “Ennu Ninte Moideen Movie Review: A Timeless Tale of Love”