Bejoy Nambiar works out the suspense and intrigue in each of his stories like the king of suspense that he is. But, somewhere the writer in him seems to have hurried through the stories causing to lose out on the essence of the narrative, writes Deepa Antony.
Anthologies are a tricky affair. Every one of the story bears the onus of proving their worth of why they made it into the collection. They also need to, briefly atleast, prove their connection to rest of the stories in the collection. In that way an anthology is far more challenging to a filmmaker than a feature film. Perhaps that is why we are familiar with anthologies as a collection of stories by different filmmakers and artists, like Kerala Café and 5 Sundarikal than one with a collection of different stories of a common theme directed and written by a single filmmaker. In that what Solo has achieved for Bejoy Nambiar is nothing short of an achievement. But only the viewers get to decide if he undertook more than he could bite.
Solo is an anthology based on the panchabhootas - jalam (water), vayu (air), agni (fire) and bhoomi (earth) with time and death as a constant in the stories. In each story Dulquer Salman plays the protagonist – Shekhar, Trilok, Siva and Rudra- each named after Shiva, the destroyer according to Hindu mythology.
The film has a brigade of actors worth their salt from Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi film industries. However, Dulquer Salmaan holds his worth against all of them. He is able to emote with an intensity that sparingly reminds us of his illustrious father. Dulquer easily makes Shekhar the most adorable protagonist of the lot. While Siva has not one dialogue in his story Dulquer is able to lend a depth to his character with his eyes. Soubin Shahir owns the screen with his quick wit and repartee. Thaikudam bridge fame Govind Menon is the only other cast member who stood out in the little screen space the anthology format allows. Govind’s character Nandha shifted from comic to intense with quite an ease. Dhankshika was convincing as a blind dancer. The rest of the leading ladies are fair, beautiful women unfamiliar with the language, yet trying to fit into their parts. Apart from the leading ladies the anthology had few prominent female casts. Ann Augustine, Neena Kurup and Deepthi Sati are the best among the few. Since the cinema is an Abaam movies production Sheelu Abraham played Dulquer’s sister with little justice to the character.
The movie looks good- thanks to the three cinematographers and the art directors. The art ingrains the theme into each narrative, sometimes forcefully and sometime naturally, but nevertheless beautifully. The movie also sounds brilliant- thanks to the host of musicians, and indie bands like Masala Coffee, Thaikudam bridge, Agam, et al. They’ve brought a fresh perspective into each story making it sound unique from one another and yet keeping to the theme. However the narration fails to speak, touch or move the viewers. With ample scope for love, loss and redemption in the plotline, Shekhar’s story had the potential to be made into a brilliant feature film. Trilok’s story is the strongest. It is crisp, powerful and hits you where it should. Taking us through the underbelly, Siva’s story makes for a gripping gangster story. With not a word from Siva the narrative is entirely based on the supporting characters. Rudra’s story is an unintentional comedy. The viewers erupt in laughter where the background score suggests otherwise.
Some of the protagonists are nearly not as likable as the rest. The good thing is Dulquer has portrayed his characters in all shades from white to black and back. Some of the stories seem distant to the point that it fails in carrying the viewers in with the flow. Bejoy works out the suspense and intrigue in each of his stories like the king of suspense that he is. But, somewhere the writer in Bejoy seems to have hurried through the stories causing to lose out on the essence of the narrative. Some of the stories screamed for more screen time so as to add more life to the narrative. Each story is an experiment onto itself. As a combination all the stories sure have something in it for everyone. But whether to sit through the rest is anyone’s choice.
- Dulquer Salmaan