And the Oskar goes to..review: A self-portrait of a film-maker
And the Oskar goes to.. review: A self-portrait of a film-maker
Critic's Rating: 2.5/5
Friday 21 June 2019
And the Oskar goes to
Tovino, Anu Sitara
In 2011, the cinematic collective of Kerala proudly added another feather to their hat when the National Film Academy Awards of India announced the respective awards. Among a list of heavy-hitters as competitors, Mollywood’s very own funny man Salim Kumar bagged the award for Best Actor. A feat that was unexpected from a film of such small scale and such grounded premise. It was called Adaminte Makan Abu (Abu, Son of Adam). The director of the film Saleem Ahamed, welcomed a barrage of high praises from several nooks of the film spectrum. He later went on to make critically acclaimed films, one of which being the 2015 highly acclaimed drama Pathemari starring Megastar Mammootty.
Four years later, his fourth outing as a director took a drastically different route from his previous works. Ahamed’s films are usually the tales of a character fighting through life and its melancholic clutches and this time was no different. The only thing different in this endeavour is the fact that Ahamed has loosely based the protagonist and his story on himself and the events surrounding his first film (Adaminte Makan Abu) and the hurdles he faced trying to get the film made, the struggles of gaining recognition for his film and ultimately the hindrances he faced while marketing his film in Los Angeles, for an Oscar buzz.
While the original events happened a decade ago, this film’s narrative takes place in present day Kerala. The shift in the timeline has subjected several drastic changes like the advent of Social Media which was not as big a network 10 years ago, as it is today.
Tovino Thomas plays Isaak Ebrahem, a younger, heightened version of Saleem Ahamed. The supporting characters consisting of Sreenivasan, Anu Sithara and Lal added to the story by being mere representatives of different people from Ahamed’s life and nothing more, which made their performances forgettable.
The only saving grace, performance wise was Tovino Thomas who carried several emotions throughout the movie, despite working with a script that failed to find the balance between realism and drama. Salim Kumar plays the movie depiction of the real-life character, Ahamed based “Adaminte Makan...” on.
While the film had some moments, where the heartfelt scenes struck the right chords, the entirety of the film fails to draw in the audience through the emotional journey of Isaak. The film offers several “meta” moments where the events of the real story is addressed by the characters themselves. From a personal point of view, the reason for this might be the screenplay of the film.
The dialogues has too much artificiality stuck to it that the characters explain their emotional state in each and every line, which gets tiresome after a point. The Malayalam audience have been subjected raw cinematic treatments, that give away emotions without burdening, theatrical monologues. Films like Thamasha, Mayanadhi, Parava have characters projecting more emotion without saying much.
“Oskar” tries to take viewers on an emotional journey, but falls flat at points due to cringe-worthy writing and the oversaturated “goodness” tone. For an aspiring filmmaker, “Oskar” has several teaching moments about the hassles that come with making a film. Whether he/she chooses to ignore or draw inspiration from it purely subjective.
The technical side of the film also lies incoherent at places. The cinematography handled by the legend Madhu Ambat, goes through a moment of highs and lows, the lows mainly being due to bad CGI added scenes. The background score by Bijibal was an unnecessary add-on at several places making the movie sound like a film from the early 2000’s, which makes it difficult for the audience to pay attention to Academy Award winner Resul Pookutty’s sound recording and mixing.
Saleem Ahamed’s autobiopic is an average affair that sways between drama and melodrama. One may give this film a chance for Tovino Thomas and his performance as a struggling film-maker that is convincing. If you are a fan of Saleem Ahamed’s earlier works, then this one will be disappointing.