Movie - Beautiful (Malayalam)
Director - VK Prakash
Producer - Anand Kumar
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues, Lyrics - Anoop Menon
Cast - Jayasurya, Anoop Menon, Meghna, Nandu, Jayan, Tini Tom, Unnimenon, Aparna Nair, Deepak Nair, KB Venu, Kochupreman, Mredul and others.
Cinematography - Jomon T John
Music - Ratheesh Vega
Editor - Mahesh Narayanan
Art Direction - Ajayan Mangad
Release Date - 2nd December 2011
First of all, a huge apology for such a long delay in posting the review of this wonderful film.
Few films make Malayalis wholeheartedly get up and give a standing ovation to a film these days. And fortunately in the year 2011, we were blessed with many such movies. 'Beautiful' - a movie that truly lives up to its title, is the latest to join them. Directed by VK Prakash and scripted by Anoop Menon, this movie is indeed a must watch.
Stephen (Jayasurya) is a paraplegic millionaire who doesnt crib about his fate and loves to live life positively finding beauty in every small thing, while his relatives are after his life to get access to his enormous wealth. When he notices a singer John (Anoop Menon) whose voice reminds him of his late friend, he makes an offer to John to be a friend for him and sing for him everyday, in return for a fat paycheck every month. John who is in dire need for money accepts the offer reluctantly and the both of them strike an unusually beautiful friendship in the course of time. There enters a sensuous and seductive home nurse Anjali (Meghna) to take care of Stephen and there is tension in the air. 'Beautiful' tells the story of what happens later.
Anoop Menon is a brilliant writer. People who watched Pakal Nakshatrangal would vouch for that. That one was a slightly intellectualized movie which did not work very well with the general audience. But with Beautiful, Anoop Menon has found the right balance and has shown exceptional skill in creating wonderful scenes and even better dialogue. Not a single character is there for the sake of it and each and every one has a perfect part to play. The friendship between the two leading men is developed beautifully and that is the backbone of the movie. Another master stroke by the writer is the constant referencing to movies which Stephen keeps watching on television. The interval scene with a tribute to Thoovanathumbikal and Johnson Maash should go down in history as one of the best tributes ever and is undoubtedly, the scene of the year. The references to films come at the right points (its not fun if I reveal them here, so go watch it for yourselves). The usage of vintage film songs at the right points was also another great touch. The humour is direct and in your face and not the regular double entendre types which we're used to hearing from Suraaj, Salimkumar and co. And since it is so direct and casual, we do not feel offended and actually find it extremely real. Dialogue has always been Anoop Menon's forte and he has done a kickass job with them here also. This movie is a reservoir for movie quote junkies like me with one epic line after another, all of which may sell hundreds of copies if printed on T shirts. Stephen's positivism and the evolution of his friendship with John are the best parts of the first half while the sexual tension in the atmosphere between John, Stephen and Anjali and the dilemma that John faces towards the end which races into a suspense thriller mode are the highlights of the second half. There is only one request to Mr. Anoop Menon - please write more often. We need great writers like you to be active in this industry which faces such extreme scarcity of good writers.
VK Prakash is a director who has attempted various different genres ranging from parallel cinema (Punaradhivasam, Karmayogi) to romance (Mullavalliyum Thenmavum) to horror (Moonnamathoraal) to action (Police) to suspense (Positive) to slapstick comedy (Gulumaal, 3 Kings) with different results and perhaps for the first time since Punaradhivaasam, he gets a script which gives him space to showcase his true potential as a director, and he has done a fabulous job translating Anoop Menon's fantastic script to the screen. He should easily be up there with the big directors after this movie. His energy and the efficiency of his entire team made it possible for this small movie to be finished under 25 days of principal shooting. The actors have been handled extremely well and the visuals are fantastic as it is always in VKP films. There is not a single dull moment in the film and the narration is simple and fresh. Now VKP can proudly say that he has earned a place among Malayalam Cinema's top directors and rightly so.
Jayasurya is an actor who hasnt got his due in Malayalam Cinema yet. He has been taking such enormous effort to portray distinctly different characters in each movie of his - be it a hero, villain, comedian or a supporting actor. But still majority of the people dont take him seriously. Now that would definitely change with his amazing performance as the paraplegic Stephen in Beautiful. After a charming Janapriyan earlier this year, Jayasurya stuns us again just by using his face and dialogue delivery and nothing else. If you ask me, he should walk away with all the best actor trophies this year for these two films (Mohanlal was brilliant in a similar role in Pranayam, but he's been there, done that. These younger guys need all the boosting when they dare to do roles like these).
Anoop Menon was a pure natural as John in the movie. After the great roles in Cocktail, Traffic & Pranayam, he shines effortlessly in Beautiful and you can actually notice the tremendous growth in him as an actor. His body language is so free flowing and natural that not once do we feel that he is performing as a character. We have very few lead actors now who can effortlessly bring out humour through their body language and Anoop shows that humourous side of his also in this movie. He shares fantastic chemistry with his real life buddy Jayasurya and that friendship truly reflects in this movie. The subtle exchange of expressions and dialogue between the both of them further accentuates their great chemistry. The only jarring thing was that he appeared a little stiff while performing the rock song in the second half (more on that later) but that doesnt matter as he is brilliant in the rest of the movie. By being part of many important movies, Anoop is truly becoming a force to reckon with in the Malayalam industry.
Meghna was the surprise package of the film. As the joke that is doing the rounds now, nobody really noticed her face so far in films and its the first time that people actually sat down and took notice of the girl's talent. And boy, the girl can act. She looks sensuous, seductive and plays her part perfectly. Great casting choice. Nandu, in an important role after Thirakkatha, is brilliant. Its a pity that this fine actor is not used to his capabilities by most filmmakers. Jayan, another underrated brilliant actor also pitches in a great performance. Tini Tom is really nice as Jayasurya's over friendly cousin. The rock band including KB Venu, Aparna Nair (let down by bad dubbing), Mredul and Deepak Nair (his Calicut accent was superb) are really good and a welcome change from the usual people seen in such roles. Unnimenon is quite stiff. Kochupreman is funny. The rest of the cast do their bits quite well.
The film is shot exquisitely by Jomon T John. The awesome cinematographer who debuted with Chaappa Kurishu takes his two RED cameras out there and does an awesome job, be it the excellently lit interiors or rain soaked exteriors or the sensuous Meghna. This dude is bound to go places. So is Mahesh Narayanan who keeps the film crisp, sharp, fine and simple. His skill is really visible in the song sequences and the interrogation/revelation sequence in the climax. Art director Ajayan Mangad has done up the different spaces in the movie really well - be it Jayasurya's posh house or Anoop Menon's makeshift living space in a furniture showroom.
Ratheesh Vega's music, especially the 'Mazhaneer Thullikal' track became a sensation even before the movie's release. The movie has 3 excellent songs including Mazhaneer Thullikal which is probably one of the best songs of the year. But the rock song was a complete disappointment. The haphazardly shot video didnt do any help either. It is the only jarring portion in an otherwise well shot film. He keeps the background score minimal and lets the audience soak in the goosebumps-inducing music of RD Burman and Johnson Mash instead. Like the entire new wave Tamil Cinema depended on vintage Ilaiyaraaja scores to create magic on screen, Anoop Menon gives a fitting tribute to Johnson Maash through the Thoovanathumbikal scene where that haunting Clara-Jayakrishnan's love theme plays out as the introduction for Meghna. Its just pure magic.
Born out of Jayasurya's leg injury and an inspiration from a true incident in Anoop Menon's childhoood, this movie reinstates our belief in good cinema and keeps the new wave moment of this year alive. A lot of biggies have released alongside with it now and many more biggies from other languages are expected to release in the coming weeks. It is the responsibility of Malayalis as an audience who've been starved of good cinema to give all their support to this movie and not to let it sink in between such big budget flicks. Take a bow, VK Prakash, Anoop Menon, Jayasurya, Jomon, Mahesh and team!! You've created a film that cant have any better adjective than its title itself - BEAUTIFUL.
PS - For all the guys who're desperately trying to find imdb links to prove that this one is also a copy, good luck!! Even though you wouldnt get any results, your efforts are appreciated. :P
Bottomline - Go watch!! Right now!!!