Friday, August 21, 2015

നത്തോലി ഒരു ചെറിയ മീനല്ല (Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla) (2013)

Director: V. K. Prakash
Writer:    Shankar Ramakrishnan
Cast:       Fahadh Faasil, Kamalinee Mukherjee, Mukundan

Preman (Fahadh Faasil) is a caretaker of a flat at Cochin. Everyone in the flat calls him Natholi (Anchovy) and he faces some issues with some of the occupants of the flat and begins to write a story using the same characters in it. Film revolves around the conflict between Preman and alter-ego character he creates (Narendran played by Fahadh himself), who starts to veer away from what Preman wants from him and starts acting on his own. 

The title of the film translates as 'Anchovy/Natholi isn't a Small Fish' and fried Natholi is in fact my favorite fish dish. I do remember taking an interest in the film due to its interesting title, ahead of its release, but I couldn't catch it at the cinemas. It is a film about which I didn't hear any good things and it went largely unnoticed after the release. The way things are here, that is not a guarantee for a film to be shit and it is often the case that really good films don't do well at the box office at all. It is even more accentuated for films that are unconventional in nature and this film is something that fits the criterion very well. For a Malayalam film to take such risks is almost unheard of these days and it is something that cannot be appreciated enough.

It is a very hard film to describe and the best I could come up with is that it is a surreal comedy. It did remind me Charlie Kauffman's 'Adaptation', a film about a writer, the characters he creates and the writing process. But this films works more like a spoof on Malayalam film industry as well as being self-referential when it comes to V. K. Prakash's filmography. VKP's 'Trivandrum Lodge' had attracted some criticism for its boldness, which some saw as lewd. It was a shock to the system for 'normal' Malayalee audience with its depiction of changing sexual mores but was largely a conventional one in terms of the narrative. In Natholi, VKP goes 'Full Retard' and the result is a very enjoyable watch. Fahadh plays the oddball character very well and Kamalinee Mukherjhee is passable as the antagonist. I am not really a fan of people acting in languages that they are not comfortable with, using dubbing. That does come in the way sometimes but the role is such that it doesn't prove to be catastrophically distracting. We recently had a spoof film in 'Chirakodinja Kinavukal', which was also quite good, but it did come with bells and whistles to make sure that the audience understand what exactly is going on. Natholi, is much bolder as it takes the intelligence of the audience for granted and treats it in a more subtle manner. It is a shame that both these films didn't do well at box office.

Overall, it is good watch and extra credits to the team for making an unconventional film. Pacing is a bit off in some places and there are some totally unnecessary songs in it but it generates enough laughter to sustain till the end. Ending is not compromised like it was for 'Chirakodinja Kinavukal'. VKP was kind of a joke figure based on some of his earlier films, but the films that I have watched of his have been rather good (Trivandrum Lodge & Beautiful being the other two). He doesn't don the Writer's role, and so, I guess it depends a lot on who wrote the film. He had recently remade 'Shutter' in Marathi.

Rating: 3/5