Friday, January 26, 2007

Baba Kalyani

Baba Kalyani - Reel View


Director: Shaji Kailas

Cast: Mohanlal, Biju Menon, Jagathy Sreekumar, Mamta Mohandas, Venu Nagavalli, Murali, Sai Kumar, Indrajith, Shammi Thilakan, P. Sreekumar, Freddy, Narayanankutty, Bindu Panicker, Maya Moushmi, Siddique, T.P.Madhavan, Reshmi Nambiar, Manuraj, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Anil Murali, Anoopchandran, Saiju Kurup

There are times when you see a movie and can’t help feeling that it could have been better than what the end result is. Baba Kalyani is a movie of wastages. It does not utilize fully the talented team at its disposal. More disappointing is that it surprisingly does not generate the excitement or suspense that a crime/investigative thriller would normally arose. There is nothing new in the movie that you haven’t seen before.

The plot is fairly simple. Baba Kalyani (Mohanlal) is an honest, intelligent and hard-working officer of the Anti-Terrorist wing of the Kerala Police. He comes across a plot to explode bombs at places of pilgrimage across Kerala with Kochi being its epicenter.

He and his team shifts to Kochi to investigate the hint's received. In order keep a low profile they are assigned various other assignments as a diversion, with Baba Kalyani himself taking the charge of an ACP.

During the course of his investigation Baba Kalyani begins to suspect Mohammed Haji (Sai Kumar), a reputed social worker with a prior history of being a religious extremist. He is an influential figure both in his religious community as well as in the local political community. His son-in-law, Zaheer Ahmed (Indrajith) is a college professor and also is actively involved in the terrorist activities in the state. Baba Kalyani learns that Zaheer and his group are planning multiple bomb explosions at a major pilgrimage in South India. Whether Baba Kalyani is able to reach them in time and thwart their plans forms the rest of movie.

Baba Kalyani is out and out a Mohanlal movie. He breezes through the role of the protagonist with tremendous ease and aplomb. The challenge for script writers and directors in the future would be to tap into the reserves of this great actor and show us something which we have not seen from him before. His acting in this movie is subtle and understated. The role itself is so similar to the one of Major Mahadevan in Keerthi Chakra that at quite a few moments in the film I was having a sense of déjà vu.

Unfortunately since the focus of the script is entirely on Baba Kalyani the rest of the characters are not given enough space to develop. You can actually count the number of scenes when Mahanlal is not on screen. This leaves a lot of characters in various states of degeneration. Some characters like that of Arackal Ashokan (Murali) is just left hanging in limbo leaving you to wonder the need for that character and sequence in the first place. Still other character sketches and sequences are brought to an abrupt end like that of his love affair with Ashokan's daughter Madhumita (Mamta). Again you are left wondering the relevance of this in the overall plot of the movie.

The main essence of any investigative thriller is the investigation itself. The excitement one gets from seeing the officer piece together the clues so as to find the real culprit is completely lacking. The plot feels half baked due to the lack of detail given to the investigation and the lack of intellect used in the process. This is surprising as the script was from S.N. Swamy, who gave us such films like Oru CBI Diary Kurippu. Without doubt he is the biggest disappointment of this movie. The only character that impresses you other than mohanlal's baba kalyani is that of Sai Kumar (Mohammed Haji) in which the actor really impresses you.

I was thankful that the direction was not as over the top as it was in the case of Shaji Kailas’s previous movie Chinthamany Kulakkesu. Even though the director has done a creditable job in keeping the tempo and pace of the movie he falters in his shots and editing. The various shots and the supposed sleek editing (not at all kind to anyone with even a remote history of migraine) leave you utterly bewildered and confused. You are bombarded with so many visuals and quick cuts that you really feel like vomiting your guts out.

The song is fairly decent enough though it has no role whatsoever to play in the overall narrative and in fact slows down the tempo of the film.

To sum up Baba Kalyani is a movie which is all gloss and no substance. It is movie of wasted potential.

Rating: 2.5 / 5