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Dec 31, 2007


It is hard to make a realistic film with Mohanlal these days. His superstardom is the stumbling block, especially when it is the younger film-makers who is directing him. That is what happened to Ranjan Pramod. He is not a Shaji N.Karun to make a Vanaprastham. I am not comparing the talents of two directors, but the age and the experience which prevents Shaji N.Karun go weak-kneed infront of the star power of Mohanlal is absent in the younger, first time director. Under such conditions, what results is a fiasco like Photographer.

Mohanlal is a freelance photographer, Dijo John, whose photos have made it to the pages of big name magazines like National Geographic. He married a Brahmin girl against his family's wishes and has a son. Like many of the recent movies which has cashed in on the plight of Adivasis, this movie makes use of the infamous Muthanga Incident of Feb 2003, where Kerala police and the Adivasis of Muthanga(Wayanad Dist., Kerala) clashed in a bloody battle. In the film the Dijo John happens to be in the adivasi village on the fateful day and ends up saving his tribal guide, a little boy named Tami. Tami's father is shot down by police bullets right infront of their eyes and there is no news about his little sister.

This personal link leads Dijo to get involved in the volatile issue which had taken on immense political proportions by then. So far so good. The problem I have with Mohanlal films these days is, no matter what the social standing of the character played by Mohanlal, the rest of the cast act in a way that conveys utmost reverence to him. The final nail on the coffin is driven in by the director himself who gives long, weighty dialogs tailored for Mohanlal - the super star, but is no way justifiable to the character he portrays. This is not exactly his flaw, but it ruins the film. Photographer is just one in a long series of movies with this fatal flaw, but I am sure it is not going to be the last one.

Dijo John, the photographer has loud conversations with God himself. The God of Malluwood 'hotlining' to the God of the Universe. The Central Govt. has its own designs on Dijo and doesn't like him playing God to an adivasi kid and secretly takes him into custody and he disappears from the scene for a while. As if the thousands of movie-goers across the state of Kerala cannot languish in a Mohanlal-less void for any length of time during a Lal movie, the director springs a twin for Mohanlal - Joe John, a planter, writer and a totally uncalled for character. Except that through this double role of Joe John, Mohanlal gets a chance to live unleash his star power, which was kind of restrained in his former character, Dijo. Stunts, cheesy jokes, a beautiful maiden in the wings, exaggerated acting are all part of the Joe John package.

There are a lot of half-baked parts - Biju Menon, the Forest Minister, Ganeshan(ex-transport minister of Kerala) who plays an investigating officer, Manoj K.Jayan as an evil incarnate police officer who disappears without trace from the script in the second half and what was the role of Saranya Bhagyaraj(daughter of Malayalam heroine of yesteryear Purnima Jayaram and Tamil actor-director Bhagyaraj)? It felt as if the director lost the sense of direction midway through the movie and ended up wandering in circles in the forest, like the character of Dijo does in the second half. The redeeming aspect of the movie is the camera which lets the audience take in the beauty of Wayanad's forests and the script when Mohanlal was not mouthing the lines.

Despite all this I'd consider Photographer one of the better Mohanlal movies to hit the screens in the recent past, because of its toned down version of the actor. Probably that was why it didn't sit well with the Kerala audience who have placed Lal on a pantheon with their other personal Gods and ended up being a mega-flop.



haha..LOL..director lost in the woods like Dijo..felt the same way ..when I was watching the movie..