Friday, December 25, 2015

ചാർളി (Charlie) (2015)

Director: Martin Prakkat
Writers:  Martin Prakkat, Unni R.
Cast:       Dulquer Salman, Parvathy, Aparna Gopinath
Language: Malayalam

Tessa (Parvathy) is on the run from her family as they are pressuring her into an arranged marriage. She ends up in Kochi where she takes an old dilapidated room for rent. She finds out that the room is filled with the belongings of its previous occupant, Charlie (Dulquer Salman), and after the initial annoyance she gets more curious about him as she goes through his things. She sets out to find him through the clues that he has left in its room and by interacting with other people who know him, either fleetingly or intimately. 

It is unabashedly a feel good film and makes no bones about it. I wasn't sure about what kind of quality to expect from the film since its director, Martin Prakkat, is someone whom I am not a fan of and its writer, Unni R, has been associated with some very good projects (Big B, Munnariyippu, Bridge segment of Kerala Cafe) prior to this. And I got exactly what you would rationally expect in such a scenario- it is a much better film than any of the previous efforts from Prakkat while being considerably inferior to the Unni R that films I have mentioned here. 

Performances from the actors are good and film is technically very strong. It is a very good film to look at and the sequences in the first half showing Charlie's room are very well done in a psychedelic Dev D manner. You can forgive all the touristy vibe about its filming since the film is also going for the same in a thematic sense. Be happy, spread happiness and such bullshit. My major problem with the film is the shallowness with which Parvathy's character is handled. She is shown as someone who is kind of similar to, what turned out to be, Charlie's nature during the initial part of the film. They don't follow through on it and as soon as the Charlie character enters into the film, she is hollowed out into being just a character for the audience to get a perspective from in exploring Charlie. They then ruin it further by giving a romantic angle to it which was not at all convincing. It was as if the Aparna Gopinath character decided it for them by defining the relationship. It could have been much better if the relationship was shown as platonic or left ambiguous. 

It is overall an engaging watch that could have been much better if they had fleshed out both the characters instead of focusing solely on the male one. Couple of songs in it were pretty nice and another two were really unnecessary and affects the pacing of the film. Its release was delayed by one week to improve on some of the graphics used, supposedly, and I got to say they didn't really improve much on it going by one romantic song in it which featured some CGId doves and possibly couple of horses as well. If you are a fan of ultra-feel-good films you might enjoy it more than I did. I didn't like Amelie as well. 

PS: The costume of Charlie character was quite popular in both the positive and negative sense much ahead of its release and so it was not at all hard to spot Charlie in that scooter sequence, which is later revealed as a minor twist. Even that they could have used better if it was shown as if he dropped her into his place and thereby engineering the whole thing to see where it goes from there. It would have given more credibility to the romantic angle as well. But as it stands it is just another one of those improbable coincidences that Malayalam cinema is sadly so fond of.

Rating: 2.5/5