The movie refrains from playing to the gallery with glorious stunt scenes or high powered punch dialogues, writes Deepa Antony.
A film starring Mohanlal and Vishal, two superstars in their own rights, playing their respective ages is not a sight for everyday. But that is what Villain; an investigative story written and directed by Unnikrishnan B sets out to do. It refrains from playing to the gallery with glorious stunt scenes or high powered punch dialogues. Villain is about ADGP Mathew Manjooran, played by Mohanlal, and Dr. Shaktivel Palanisamy, played by Vishal, both marked by their personal tragedies. Following up on a tried and tested formula seen in Memories, Grandmaster and many such cop movies, Villain is also about a senior cop affected by a personal tragedy coming back to service for his ‘one last case’ on the insistence of his senior. However there is also a rather strong emotional thread at the heart of the narrative. But, for an investigative story of a series of crimes, what the cinema lacks heavily is suspense and thrill.
Unlike how it should be, especially in a crime thriller, the story has many inconsistencies in the plot. A woman with violet nail polish is pursued all the way till the interval and left halfway. Is this is under the assumption that a woman doesn’t change her manicure? Corruption in cops, even when it sets the domino of events rolling, is let off with the cops apologizing!
The colour tone of the film is also kept at grey to substantiate the mystery element. And, the narrative follows a heavily anglicized tone. Not just with an abundance of English dialogues, the set is dressed to remind one of London. There are large clocks that remind you of the Big Ben and a City Task Force under the Kerala Police in Trivandrum that has a high tech Scotland Yard-esque vibe to it. Even the background score has a good measure of jazz music to add intrigue and suspense.
Mohanlal is the one redeeming factor in Villain. While his acting skills need no more accreditation, the man looks dashing playing his age. Though his character is made to speak in redundant puzzles and misplaced Shakespearean references, sprinkled for effect, Mohanlal is at his best emoting even without the dialogues. Manju Warier takes time to warm up to her role of an idealist doctor where she’s seen giving a controlled and subtle performance, much of what is not seen from here these days. However by the time her role nears completion she owns it. Hansika Motwani is not just a pretty face here. She is confident, sassy and even believable when she is seen speaking Malayalam. Raashi Khanna, who debuts in Malayalam through this film, plays a cop called Harshita Chopra, clearly a non-Malayali character, but, who speaks fluent Malayalam like it were her mother tongue.
Produced by Rockline Venkatesh, Villain is said to be ‘the first Indian film to be completely filmed and to be released in 8K resolution’. While it is a major technical breakthrough for Malayalam cinema, a good story, narrated well is and always will be the gauging factor for good storytelling. It that way, Villain, with no suspense and an inconsistent storyline, but with amazing actors giving performances as good as is expected of them seems to have a lot to work on.
- Vishal Krishna