I loved the film. Period. Therefore, I was a little disturbed and surprised at the not so good reviews.
To me it seemed to be one of the better made thrillers in some time in Malayalam filmdom or Mollywood as some refer to it.
Mohanlal in the character of the head cop is different from the aggressive cop roles played by Suresh Gopi in Commissioner and Tiger. It is also different from the Sethuram Iyer roles played by Mammootty in the CBI series. If this character has to be likened to somebody it has to be the cop played by Anupam Kher in A Wednesday. If my memory serves me right, Mohanlal plays the role assigned to Kher in A Wednesday’s Tamil remake.
As in films, this head cop has a past, a briliant past as a police officer that is brought down like a stack of dominoes as a result of a personal crisis. The current case, the ABC muders and the murderer brings his past into the present; his personal past gets entangled with the professional present. Most of the murders are revenge stories, this one is no different. However, the narration takes the audience away from the personal and the vengence in the first half. It makes us focus on the professional present and while we are at it, the narration takes us back to the past. Every character falls into place and the film ends in a grandiose way.
The two motifs that take the film forward are the motif of the stage and the motif of the chess board. Grandmaster, the title is related to the game, and in the film the battle is between the cop and the murderer and among them who wins the title of the grandmaster… the tweaks in narration and narrative flow is brilliant where at every move, there is the scene of the two players on either side of the chess board. The face of the villain/murderer is revealed in the end. The film enters its climax and resolution through the motif of the stage. Both Shakespeare (stage) and the mystery writer Agatha Christie (ABC Murders) are remembered.
The dramatics and the face paint on the villain in the end, especially during the scene when he is lured on to the stage where his identity is revealed is brilliantly executed. There is an aftertaste of a drama there…. the spotlight, the exits and entrances… The film brings to life… what is oft quoted from Shakespeare’s As You Like It:
“…. All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances …”
The plot of the film is such that one man sets out to direct a set of serial murders – a set of ABC Murders, however he also makes a cop a participant in it. The police chase begins … Apart from the Bard and Christie, a third idea comes from the Da Vinci Code*… where, a man, the dummy killer is persuaded to commit the acts of murder (Aside: believe that for the time being), the cause – religious persuasion leading to blind faith in one human being…. whom he thinks is God himself!
The songs are hummable… Arike va… Aranu Ni is catchy. Edited to add: it is much later I realized from an interview that vijay yesudas sang akaleyo ni… love it, it runs as a loop on many days, beautifully sung. The man sings very well, and has a range. For instance, mangalyam from bangalore days is also sung by him, but it is of a very different timbre.
One cannot rush through the film… The slow pace, gives it the edge, the intermittent scenes of Mohanlal with the Chess Boards, with his nameless, faceless opponent gives a meta view of the tale itself….
- Babu Antony’s make-up and make over – good.
- The kid who plays their daughter – charming
- Mark Roshan is expressive
- Anoop Menon should come in cameo roles 🙂
- Priya Mani’s saris – loved them
- Naren looks so toned down in body as well as acting….
There is no rush of the youth, it is a calm mental game…calculated of course. I hope I have not put forh spoilers 😛
- Film Review: Spirit (2012) | Malayalam | Renjit-Mohanlal (pinashpinash.wordpress.com)
- Grandmaster in Hindi (thehindu.com)