Friday, August 28, 2015

Double Barrel (2015)

Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery
Writer:    Lijo Jose Pellissery
Cast:       Prithviraj, Indrajith, Aarya, Vijay Babu, Asif Ali, Sunny Wayne
Language: Malayalam

Film got released today and I had the opportunity to do a 'First Day, First Show' for it...Downside of that is that its imdb page is not updated with a synopsis. I am not arsed to come up with a new one and will copy paste something from an FB post that Prithviraj did yeasterday:

"Be warned, Double Barrel is like nothing you have seen before. It's a genre bender..rather a whole new genre for Malayalam cinema. It's about gangsters, dealers, schemers and goons...all chasing after an elusive pair of diamonds..all bound by their disarmingly endearing stupidity."

Like he says, it is indeed something very different from the usual and watching the teasers and trailers beforehand is very much advised to ascertain whether you are really up for it. It is the first Malayalam film to be shot using Red Dragon camera, which can do up to 6k resolution, and it is indeed sumptuous in a visual sense. The teaser for it which got released months ago was great but I feared for the film when I saw the trailer for it two months back. The latter conveyed the spoof comedy vibe of it and I really felt it could go either way (കയ്യാലപ്പുറത്തെ തേങ്ങ മാതിരി) after watching that. The actors in it like Prithviraj, Sunny Wayne and Vijay Babu are not exactly known for doing comedy roles well but the way the director go is 'Full Retard', with very unsubtle comedy which works well with the gorgeous visuals. It is like watching that bar scene from 'Dev D' as a full length film. First half of the film works really well culminating with the shootout in a basement parking area.

What worked well in the first half ceases to do so in the second half since what follows is more or less the same and there is a limit to what we can visually absorb in a film. It is just a sensory overload. Film is close to 160 minutes long and it seems the director didn't have someone to tell him the old Malayalam adage: "അധികമായാൽ അമൃതും വിഷം" (Translates as- If taken in excess, even 'Amrit' will act as poison). The vibe that I got from the audience during the intermission was that they were enjoying the ride but soon after the interval, I started seeing people walking out and by the end there was a significant amount of booing. It was kind of justified because the film overstays its welcome by at least forty minutes and it is a shame because if edited down, with proper scissors and all that, we could have got a great film out of the material that they had. Having three totally unnecessary songs in it just makes it worse because they significantly affects the pacing. 

So to sum up, first half of the film is great and second half is thoroughly average bordering on shit because of the sameness. My complaint is not related to it not having a proper story and all that but one cannot just sit through three set-piece action shootouts with the only difference between them being the different environments that they are set in. It is technically good and all that with peppy BGM but ultimately it is exponentially self-indulgent. There is one video-game like action sequence which should be something new for the Indian audience. The cast does well with the cartoonish characters and I didn't even recognize Asif Ali in it. Vijay Babu impressed me with his performance in 'Neena' and in this one he plays a character in a diametrically opposite manner. I was surprised by how well the comedy worked in the film. The story arc of Aarya and Chemban Vinodh becomes irritating towards the end but their introduction scene which involves a lesson on how to drink expensive alcohol was Tarantinosque. I don't know if they rushed the post production to get it ready for the release because the last half hour of the film's coloring is very toned down compared to what came before. That happened after Aarya's character becomes sober and maybe it is intentional. If the film is to be watched, it has to be at the cinemas and I would recommend it just for the fact that they had the balls (Blue balls in heart finally made sense) to do it this way. It will definitely bomb (unless school kids save the day) at the box office but could eventually get a cult following. It is a glourious mess of of film. It is a mess alright but glourious nonetheless...

PS: I did expect it to be a 'Snatch' and 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' rip-off but apart from the gangster heist similarity in basic story-lines and some of the editing flourishes, but it is totally different and especially the comedy style. This one is in an entirely different genre onto itself.

PPS: Saw this again today (03/09/15) and was hoping to catch the trimmed version of it where 20 minutes from the second half is edited out. Older version was still running here and it looks like today will be the last day of its run here. Trimmed or not, film was even better on second watch and am upgrading it to 3.5/5 from 3. Noticed one continuity error- Majnu's Boss gets his hands on Kulsumbi, the drug, just before he gets shot and killed. Then how the hell does he pass it on to Majnu?

Rating: 3.5/5