Movie - Angel John (Malayalam)
Director - SL Puram Jayasurya
Producer - KK Narayanadas
Cast - Mohanlal, Shaanthanu Bhagyaraj, Nithya Menon, Lalu Alex, Ambika, Jagathy Sreekumar, Baiju, Vijayaraghavan
Cinematography - Ajayan Vincent
Music - Ouseppachan
Editing - Bijith Bala
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Manaf
Release Date - 22nd October 2009
Being a Mohanlal fan, I usually watch his movies on the day of its release and the very first show itself if possible. But I couldnt do so for this movie because I was in Chennai on the release day. After coming back to Cochin, I tried calling some of my friends for the movie, but all of them backed out because they had all heard enough bad things about the movie. I decided to go alone for the night show then, but my family felt 'paavam' for me and decided to join me in this adventure. So I dragged them into an almost empty Kavitha theatre for the night show which had already started 10 minutes ago. I felt sad seeing that the hall was almost empty, that too not even a week after the release of the movie. I havent seen such a poor crowd for a Mohanlal starrer in the first week ever before. (Maybe because I watch all movies on first day itself) ;) And after seeing all this, I started watching the movie which was already 15 minutes into its running time with zero expectations.
The story is about Maradona, a carefree youth who has no goals in life and one who doesnt care about anything or anyone around him. He gets into lots of trouble (which are way too many to be written here) and finally, Maradona decides to commit suicide and just before he does that, an Angel comes down from heaven and stops him. The Angel gives him two offers and Maradona chooses the easy way out, even though it had a dangerous clause at the end. From here on, Angel grants all of Maradona's wishes at the rate of one wish per day. But what happens finally when the choice that he made proves dangerous? This is what the movie is about.
The first half gets over rapidly in less than an hour. The first half is plain uninteresting to watch. The worst part of all was that, Fort Kochi was shown as Goa in the movie. This is effective cost cutting, I must say!! There is nothing much to mention about in the first half as it is very lackluster. And when Shaanthanu gets drunk and goes on top of a lighthouse to commit suicide, there are some real bad composite shots with pretty bad graphics work. It is only then that Mohanlal appears, in outlandish, flashy costumes and a very bad wig, as Angel John. He is givens some really bad dialogues in his very first scene itself and suddenly, another Mohanlal pops out of nowhere. The other Mohanlal comes in mundu and shirt and one cannot help but clap when Lalettan comes in a mundu. He makes some mediocre lines sound great with his great delivery at that particular instance. But it is way too short and the intermission sign appears then and there.
Shaanthanu's acting varies from decent to bad. He has improved a lot from his disastrous debut, Sakkarakkatti (which is remembered only for Rahman's chartbuster Taxi Taxi). I should say that this chap is indeed very lucky. His first film had music by AR Rahman and he could act alongside a legend like Mohanlal in his second film. He was decent in many scenes, but in the scenes where he is required to emote, he just stands expressionlessly, without doing anything. And in the drunk scene, he shows us a new level of overacting. Coming from the Tamil industry, he has a tendency to raise his hands and utter punch dialogues, even for the simplest of scenes. The deficiency of young actors in Malayalam is the sole reason why this guy was imported from Tamil Nadu to play the role of Maradona. (Who would name their son Maradona? As Salimkumar says in the movie, 'Vaayil kollaavunna peru vallom ittaal poraayirunno?') Having said that, I shoud also say that Shaanthanu definitely has lots of scope for improvement. He can be moulded into a good actor, if he gets to work with good directors in the future. The dubbing for him, by Sharath, was good, though sometimes he sounded like Vineeth Sreenivasan too.
There is absolutely nothing that Mohanlal, the actor has to do in this film. This role is just written to manipulate Mohanlal, the superstar. But the director fails to utilize both his acting talent and his superstardom. If Pattanathil Bhootham was Mammootty's terrible mistake, Angel John is Mohanlal's mistake. (Though it is not as bad as Bhootham). I dont understand why these two actors take up similar roles and try to compete with each other. Last year, when Mohanlal made a good entertainer Madambi, Mammootty mad a really bad Parunthu. This year, after Mammootty made a horrible Pattanathil Bhootham, Mohanlal replies with a lackluster Angel John. In fact, he even takes a dig at Bhootham through one of the dialogues. Both of them should realize that they are much above all these silly things. In spite of all this, if Angel John is watchable, it is only because of Mohanlal's presence in the movie. He tries his best to save the movie and is not quite successful in that, though he gives some of his wonderful comic expressions at times, which is always a delight to watch. But why is he wearing such bad costumes and a horrible wig?? All these made him look really bad in the movie. Only when he came as an army man, he looked nice. And the idea of morphing Mohanlal into Rajnikanth, mouthing some of his most popular dialogues from various films together, in a scene from Kuselan, was clearly done to get applause from the audience. But since hardly any audience was there, that scene didnt work. In short, Mohanlal is wasted in the movie, but if he wasnt there, the movie would have been a total waste.
Nithya is beautiful and has got good talent (she showed good potential in Aakashagopuram). Lalu Alex is just ok. Ambika hams it up. Jagathy is good as usual. Salimkumar was great in the movie's only hilarious comic scene (meaning the only one that works). Bijukkuttan, Baiju and the new villain are all just there.
The movie has a good message for the youth of today, but the director is not very successful in bringing it out. The script and dialogues are quite juvenile at many points and the direction is just okay throughout. If treated well, this story could have been an intriguing watch. The only scenes that work, at least to a certain extent, are the scenes where Jagathy tries to create a world record by staying underwater and the climax scene involving Mohanlal and Shaanthanu. The idea of expressing Maradona's state of mind through his T-shirts was good, though it is hardly seen in the second half. Cinematography is very average. We dont see any greatness that Ajayan Vincent showed in his last movie Bhramaram, in this one. The one song by Ouseppachan is pretty bad. Why is Hariharan made to sing some tongue twisters in Malayalam, when he can hardly pronounce the basic words correctly? There is nothing much to be talked about regarding the other technical aspects of the movie. The story by Manaf could have been good, if he had not written such a poor screenplay and juvenile dialogues for it.
The question that comes to your mind when you leave the theatre is that, why do such movies get made? It doesnt do any good to the director, producer, actors or technicians. Then what is the point of making the whole movie and that too by wasting the talent and dates of such a huge superstar along with it. Though the movie is certainly better than Mammootty's clownish Bhootham act, it is nothing much to be proud about, as the movie is quite below average and leaves you with a bland feeling. The movie is faring pretty badly at the box office and will ultimately be a failure, because a lot of negative publicity is doing the rounds as well. And the timing of the release too, has affected the movie a lot, because Pazhassiraja is doing great business and is being appreciated by critics and audience alike. I hope the team realizes their mistake and does not make such attempts from now on. And a sincere request to Lalettan, we all love you, but we would like to see you in much better roles than this, because you are much above all this. Give us more Bhramarams, or even entertainers like Chotta Mumbais or Twenty 20s, but not Angel Johns.
Rating - 2/5