Overtake review: A cinematographer's cinema

Overtake will be known for its visual superiority than anything else, writes Deepa Antony. 

Road movies are a genre with its fair share of takers in Hollywood and even Bollywood. These movies have their own charm in taking cinema into the grandiose of the outdoors and in involving not only fresh locales, but also ‘action’. However, for one reason or another, the genre is heavily unexplored in Malayalam. After the Sameer Thahir directed Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi starring Dulquer Salmaan and Rani Padmini directed by Aashiq Abu starring Manju Warrier and Rima Kallingal, the genre hasn’t seen much “action”. For whatever reasons, between perceptions as to how it would be received or even because of the technical expertise required in shooting major chunks of the cinema moving on road, the genre has been heavily left unattended. More often than not, road movies tend to be more about the shooting locations, the journey and the scenery, than the story. This is where Sameer Thahir successfully hits a balance in Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi while Aashiq Abu falters in Rani Padmini. However, both of these cinemas were about the protagonists’ coming-of-age and re-discovering themselves. They were feel-good movies. This is where Overtake, written and directed by John Joseph is miles away from all these other road movies in Malayalam.

Overtake is an action-packed, thrilling road movie with a sketchy story line. Vijay Babu effortlessly portrays Nandan Menon, a likable family man and a sharp and successful business man. He is even able to pull of the stunt scenes with just as much ease. Parvathy Nair who plays his wife, Radhika sticks out like a sore thumb. She seems uncomfortable mouthing the dialogues and is fidgety. Deepak Parambol’s is a job well done. However unconvincing the story around his character Balu is, Deepak pulls off his character with quite mastery.

Overtake is the story of a tanker lorry chasing a car for most part of the cinema. The question that - why is it chasing the car- forms the crux of the cinema. However even the reason is flawed, making the story limp. The film has an obvious naivety with glaring missed logic. In this age of technology it is unconvincing that the protagonists don’t think of using navigation apps when they are lost in the middle of nowhere inspite of having mobile network. They make phone calls, but never ask for help even when they are obviously in trouble. At one point Radhika (Parvathy Nair) reprimands Nandan (Vijay Babu), her husband, for standing up for her against goons who try to harass her, and thus trivializes the attack on her. The narrative is peppered with predictable red herrings, which any fan of thrillers can guess in a heartbeat- that are simply red herrings. When a 2 hour movie becomes predictable in the first half hour what keeps the viewers glued to the screen are the visuals.

And that is how the Director of Photography, Ajayan Vincent makes the film watchable by keeping the viewers at the edge of their seats. His heart racing visuals are all that lifts the viewing experience. How he envisages the adventurous and thrilling car chase sequences are all this film is about. For those who enjoy a good car chase scene, his visuals, without doubt, give the viewers an adrenaline rush.

Overtake has near to no background music as they have mostly retained just the natural background noises. This gives the movie a certain edge. However the use of some background music for certain characters alone lends an inconsistency to the totality.

Some movies are the directors’ cinema while some the actors’. Overtake, however, is an exception by being a cinematographer’s cinema. While the actors have largely done their parts well, Overtake will be known for its visual superiority than anything else.


reviewed byDeepa Antony

05 Nov 2017 | 10:24 PM

  • directed by
  • John Joseph
  • Starring
  • Vijay Babu
  • Parvathy Nair