Saturday, October 31

Swa Le - Fizzles out after a promising start.

Movie - Swa Le (Malayalam)
Director - P Sukumar
Producer - Anu M Warriar, P Sukumar
Cast - Dileep, Gopika, Innocent, Nedumudi Venu, Ashokan, Ganesh, Jagathy Sreekumar, Harisree Ashokan
Music - Bijipal
Cinematography - P Sukumar
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Kalavoor Ravikumar
Release Date - 29th October 2009

I watched this movie right after I watched Kerala Cafe, on Thursday. I expected a good movie from the promos I saw on TV and the fact that the movie is based on the war between leading newspaper dailies during the early 90s. Its been a long time since Dileep gave a solo hero hit (Passenger cannot fully be called a Dileep film even though he was great in that movie) and I wanted this film to do well for his sake. The film begins with an interesting narration by Ranjith, the creative head of the other release, Kerala Cafe. He introduces us to the time when there was no cable TV, no mobile phones and where people like Unni Madhavan (Dileep) struggled to get exclusive stories for their dailies. 

The story is about Unni Madhavan, a talented, but struggling journalist working for a comparatively lesser read newspaper. He has a wife Vimala (Gopika) who eloped from her house to get married to him. They live in a small house where Unni struggles to make the ends meet. On top of all this, Vimala is pregnant and needs care but has nobody with her. Not even Unni, who is on the run for his work, working hard to earn more for his family which would soon have one more member. He is sent off to cover all sorts of events and get exclusive stories. But due to an irresponsible photographer (Salimkumar), he is not able to get there before the reporters of the major dailies (Ashokan, Ganesh and team). Unni is not even paid properly for all the work he has been doing and he does not believe in hunting for jobs in bigger newspapers. He believes that they will come and call him one day seeing his work. The situation worsens when they get an information that a literary giant, Palazhi Sivasankara Pillai (Nedumudi Venu) is on his deathbed. Unni is sent to cover the death of this great person, whom he has had a personal attachment with, in his childhood. The wait for his death goes on and on and Vimala's condition worsens day by day too. The events that follow makes up the rest of the story. 

The film has an interesting premise and it also succeeds in bringing out a lot of facts about journalism and the director and writer bring out those facts through black humour. All that is very effective and makes us laugh and think as well. But after a very impressive first half, the film loses its grip totally. The story takes an eternity to get over and the movie moves at a snail's pace. I felt more restless because I had just come after watching Kerala Cafe, where each story was only 10-15 minutes long. So it was like watching a slow test match, after seeing an exciting 20-20 match. They could have easily made the movie much shorter and the movie would have gotten a much better impact if it was shorter at least by half an hour. Or it would have been perfect, if this story was narrated in 10 minutes, as part of Kerala Cafe. I'm saying all this because this movie had a very nice premise, but the pace of the movie and the never-ending second half does all the damage. 

Dileep is perfect as the struggling journalist Unni Madhavan. He gives a sincere and earnest performance, to which we can take an immediate liking towards. It is good to see the performer in him utilized well. He has started doing roles with more depth these days, like in his previous movie, Passenger, where he was absolutely brilliant.  Swa Le belongs to Dileep and if you like this film, it is only because of Dileep. Gopika makes a comeback after her wedding through this film. She looks better than she used to be and does well in her short role. I heard that she was actually pregnant while playing the role of a pregnant lady in this film. Innocent as the manipulative news editor is okay. The director could have used him in a better way. Salimkumar's scenes with Dileep are hilarious, but his separate comic scenes were vulgar and totally unnecessary. Jagathy Sreekumar as a tea shop owner who makes the most out of the situation at Palazhi's house is good. Harisree Ashokan is completely over the top. I've begun to hate him completely in all the recent movies he has been doing. Ganesh and Ashokan are good in their respective roles. Nedumudi Venu leaves an impact in his short role. A wonderful actress like KPAC Lalitha is wasted in a role where she's got nothing to do. On the whole, everyone performs well, except for Harishree Ashokan. 

The film has 2 good songs, though the placement of the romantic song could have been better. Since the film is directed by a cinematographer, you expect some magical cinematography (remember Ananthabhadram?). But P Sukumar's cinematography is nothing unusual. He does a good job like he does in his films with other directors, nothing extraordinary. He can be a good director, but he should have more grip over his story and should be able to sustain the interest of the audience throughout. Kalavoor Ravikumar's story is interesting. But his screenplay takes an eternity to get to the point. Dialogues are good. When the story is stretched so much, you expect at least an explosive climax, but here, the climax also is pretty ordinary. This film would be a perfect example of a good story gone wrong on screen, though it has its moments. 

All in all, the movie has a very interesting first half with a lot of black humour and hilarious scenes, but fizzles out with a never-ending second half. And the movie has released at a wrong time along with biggies like Kerala Cafe and Pazhassiraja, which is still running to packed houses. The movie has an earnest plot, but not so earnest execution. So I doubt if the movie will be able to have a good run in the theatres. I hope it does well for the sake of Dileep. 

Rating - 2.8/5 

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