Movie - Loudspeaker (Malayalam)
Director - Jayaraaj
Producer - Jayaraaj
Cast - Sasikumar, Mammootty, Gracy Singh, Janardhanan, Salimkumar, Jagathy Sreekumar, Kalpana, KPAC Lalitha, Bheeman Raghu, Suraaj Venjarammood, Cochin Haneefa, Anoop Menon.
Music - Bijibal
Cinematography - Gunasekhar
Editing - Vijai Sankar
Story - Jayaraaj, PY Jose
Screenplay, Dialogues - Jayaraaj
Release Date - 20th September 2009.
This is Jayaraaj in a Sathyan Anthikkad mode. Mammootty is back to good acting after a series of terrible films. And this feel-good movie is released during a festive season. And best of all, was the joy of watching a Malayalam film with completely natural performances from the entire cast after Sathyan Anthikkad's Bhagyadevatha. This movie doesnt have the usual trappings of a superstar movie. No heroism, no song and dance routines, no loud costumes, and best of all, was that the comedy was very much situational rather than being vulgar and lame. So its a delight to watch Mammootty in full form, without all these burdens after a long time. And Jayaraaj does a good job in his first outing as a screenwriter. This movie also deserves special mention because it is the very first movie in Malayalam to use Sync-Sound or spot recording, where the dialogues are recorded on the location itself, instead of dubbing it later. (Thanks to the influence of Mr.Resul Pookutty)
The story is pretty simple. A village bumpkin comes into the city to help a man who is going through a terrible health condition. He starts living in the apartments where this old man stays. He is a very innocent, down to earth villager who means no harm, but is hated by everyone around. How this guy brings about a change in the attitude of everyone towards him and how he helps the old man get back to loving his life forms the rest of the story. The innocence and love of the man from the village wins the hearts of the city bred people who live their own isolated, miserable lives. I said Jayaraaj is in Sathyan Anthikkad mode this time because the entire movie is full of things which we can see only in Sathyan Anthikkad movies. Completely natural performances, a feel-good narrative and melodious, well-written songs. There is nothing new in the story, and you all know where the story is heading to, but still you are glued to the movie because of the sincerity and genuineness of the performance(s) and the simplicity of the storyline.
Though it is a predictable story, what makes this movie immensely watchable is Mammootty's completely natural portrayal of Mike Philipose, a man who speaks very loudly, hence getting the nickname, Loudspeaker/Mike. He is all heart, and does everything for the good. But people around him end up hating him for the same. He changes from being a nuisance to a great human being in the eyes of everyone as the movie progresses. It is perhaps the best performance from Mammootty in this decade after Kaazhcha and Ore Kadal. You immediately fall in love with his portrayal of the innocent and lovable villager. It is a complete delight to watch him in every scene. He gets to mouth some really hilarious dialogues as well. His story about the fight between his father and an elephant is extremely funny. Mike Philippose is one more addition to Mammootty's very few effective comedy based roles. Some of the others being Kottayam Kunjachan, Azhakiya Ravanan, Oru Maravathoor Kanavu, Thommanum Makkalum, Rajamanikyam and Mayavi. He does comedy in his own style, and the best thing is that the comedy here is not cheap, like the comic tracks in his recent movies Pattanathil Bhootham and Maya Bazaar and all were. It is a great relief for people who had begun to hate Mammootty for doing such senseless roles repeatedly. He shines in the emotional scenes too. Whether it is the one where he talks about his father's death, or the scenes towards the end, Mammootty gives an amazing performance throughout.
Sasikumar, one of the pioneers of television media (former chairman of Asianet) in Kerala, faces the movie camera after a long time (for the second time in his career). He does a neat job of portraying Menon, a man who has lost interest in his life. Menon is suffering from a serious disease. He is not interested in continuing his miserable life and lives in memories of his wonderful childhood. He hates Mike during their initial interactions. But gradually, Mike becomes a part of his life, and a beautiful friendship forms between the two. Menon is taken for a nostalgic trip down memory lane by Mike in the second half. Those scenes are truly wonderful. And both the actors have performed very well. It is interesting to note that Sasikumar's name comes before Mammootty's in the end credits. ;) Sasikumar proves that he has got great talent and is a great casting option for many character roles from now on.
During his stay at the apartments, Mike influnces the lives of so many people who live there. From children to a great grandfather, everyone hates him at first. But then, like Menon, they also fall for the innocence of Mike Philippose. There are a host of characters who stay in the apartments like the grandfather played by Janardhanan, and several other characters played by the likes of KPAC Lalitha, Bheeman Raghu, Kalpana, Jagathy Sreekumar and a lot of children as well. Most of them come up with competent performances. But Jagathy Sreekumar, our most brilliant comedian, was seriously annoying in this movie. His role is a mixture of his own roles from Minnaram, Mr.Butler and Kilukkam and also, the role of Bhrahmanandam in tamil film Mozhi. He even repeats one of his really famous lines from Kilukkam, "Ini elakaan onnumilla'', after getting injured. Truly disappointing performance from such a wonderful artiste. I dont know why the casting of Suraaj Venjarammoodu is an absolute necessity in all Malayalam movies (especially ones where Mammootty plays the lead) these days. As I mentioned in an earlier review, he is going from bad to worse. There was absolutely no requirement for his role in this movie. It is only when he comes, that an otherwise lovely movie goes down in standard. He is okay initially. But he starts his brand of toilet humour later on, which looks totally out of place in such a neat movie like this. (I seriously hope Mammootty hasnt cast Suraaj in the historical Pazhassiraja also :P) Either he should start doing decent comedy, or people shouldnt cast him in their movies. Gracy Singh, is imported from the north to play a very unimportant role in the narrative. She does well though, and her lip sync is near perfect. I heard the dubbing was also done on the spot, rather than doing it in the studio. Maybe that is why the lip sync has come out well. Salimkumar, Cochin Haneefa and Pakru Ajayan are good in their small roles.
Jayaraaj is successful in getting first rate performances from the lead cast, especially Mammootty and Sasikumar. Though his job as a screenplay writer needs to go a long way, he is good with dialogues. He has written some hilarious lines for Mammootty and other characters. The reference of the apartments as an 'erumaadam' was a clever one. Though his screenplay is weak, and has nothing new to offer, he has rectified that by extracting clever performances and writing witty dialogues. Jayaraaj has done very few comedies in his career (Thilakkam, Johnny Walker, Vidyarambham), in which he has focused mainly on serious art-house movies. The movie is a little slow paced, but compared to other Jayaraaj movies, this pace itself is too fast (:P). Jayaraaj manages to get a huge round of applause by making his character Mike, played by Mammootty, a fan of Mohanlal's Aadu Thoma from Spadikam (who isnt a fan of him in that movie?). There is a short action scene where Mammootty does stunts inspired by Mohanlal's Spadikam stunts. The shots which showed Mohanlal's photograph in Mammootty's suitcase got the maximum applause in the entire movie. A clever touch by Jayaraaj. His last movie Gulmohar found no takers though it was a brilliant film. So he has gone much more commercial this time, but without compromising his work with the usual trappings of a superstar movie. He has managed to deliver an extremely likable movie. But my only complaint is about the inclusion of stupid scenes by Suraaj.
I have already done a review of the lovely music of the movie by Bijibal. The movie has 4 beautiful songs written very well in chaste Malayalam by Anil Panachooran. Hearing good lyrics in pure Malayalam is itself so refreshing in these days of terrible songs with even more terrible lyrics. The best of the lot was the recreation of the timeless melody 'Alliyambal Kadavil' which was originally done by Job Master, P Bhaskaran and KJ Yesudas. The new version has vocals by the most rightful person to sing the song now, Vijay Yesudas. He has done a tremendous job. The song has been visualized beautifully too. In fact, this song is one of the most beautiful parts of the movie. Mammootty himself has given vocals to 2 songs with the children. He sings as the character Mike would sing, in an extremely odd voice, which adds value to those songs. The final song, 'Kaattaarinu Thorathoru' by Jayachandran is a beautiful song, but is not picturised well. Though the placement of the song was dot on, the visuals used didnt do full justice to that wonderful song.
The cinematography varied from bad to okay to brilliant. Certain frames were extremely beautiful, like the crane shot where Mammootty and Sasikumar cross the river on a vanchi. On the contrary, many shots were totally bad as well. Editing had its share of flaws too. The movie could have moved at a tighter pace. It lags at many instances. And towards the end, I noticed so many jarring shots put together. I was shocked to see such careless work. I dont know if it is a mistake from the editor or an error from digital projection. Many shots are slowed down to give some kind of an effect, but they totally do not work. It clearly shows that the slow motion was done during post production. I noticed a lot of zebra lines (a camera error) in several shots too (again, I dont know if it is an error in projection).
The unique factor of this movie is that the sound recording was done on the spot. But most of the dialogues by people other than Mammootty and Anoop Menon, werent clearly audible. All the mistakes of doing sync-sound for the first time were there. I guess the sound which was recorded on the spot was mixed directly without treating. A little amplification of those voices would have made a lot of difference. Mammootty speaks very loudly and has great voice-throw so his voice is heard distinctly. Another person who has good voice-throw is Anoop Menon, though he has a very short role. Certain scenes give you a feeling that you are watching the actual shooting because of the voice errors. I support sync-sound but it should be done effectively, like in Hindi films (Dil Chahta Hai, Lagaan, Black,etc.) and few Tamil films (Aayitha Ezhuthu). Such an error shouldnt have occurred. It was nice to see just one name in the list of dubbing artistes in the credits at the end of the movie (for Gracy Singh). Dubbing cannot even give half the impact that the actual shoot gives for the spoken lines. So my view is that live sound recording should be done for each and every movie (which will get rid of a sick practice called prompting for scenes also). I hope they rectify the errors in this movie and do better work from next time onwards. This is seriously an inspiration for other filmmakers in Malayalam to experiment with sound recording.
On the whole, this movie made me feel very good. Though it is predictable, the performances, music and sincerity of the whole movie made it work very well for me. A wonderful performance from Mammootty, a new talented character actor in the form of Sasikumar, witty dialogues by Jayaraaj, great music by Bijibal and Anil Panachooran, and the recreation of an evergreen melody made this movie a memorable one for me. All said and done, I'm doubtful about the movie's success in the box office. This movie may not be appreciated by the so-called fans of Mammootty. (who support all his nonsense movies and stay away when he does good movies like Karutha Pakshikal, Ore Kadal, Kaiyoppu, etc.) But this is certainly not a movie made for the brainless fans. It is a movie which you can watch with your family on a nice evening, and feel good about, while going back home. I hope the movie gets a good response from the family audience, who are subjected to atrocities like Oru Black & White Kudumbam and all these days. Thanks to Jayaraaj for bringing our Mammookka back into doing good movies. :)
Rating - 4/5
(Being very generous so that Mammookka does more such movies instead of the kind of movies he has been doing till now)