Charlie (Dulquer Salmaan) is a free-spirited vagabond, the quintessential do-gooder who lives to see the sparkle in others’ eyes. Tessa (Parvathy) is a free-spirited vagabond too who effortlessly flits between cities and careers in search of new experiences. The similarities go even further as they’re both graphic artists and are both incredibly passionate people! But there’s one primal difference between Charlie and Tessa that’s easy to miss – Charlie is selfless, Tessa is anything but.
But the movie doesn’t ask you to do all of those deductions. Charlie is a kind of movie that you go sit and trust the director to take you on a soul-quenching ride. And what an eyeful it is too. Starting from the incredibly gorgeous looking title card, down to the teeny tiny marvelous touches like how a pair of pliers turn into antlers for a deer sketch, this is one fabulously mounted film. And I’ve not seen many Malayalam films but Cochin has never looked better in my opinion. There is something to be said about what a movie can achieve when it’s got a tasteful cinematographer. There are probably way too many slow-mo shots but I never did complain and I couldn’t stop staring at the screen.
The movie unfolds in an unconventional way. Tessa’s relentless search for Charlie (the mysterious/intriguing previous occupant of her apartment) was handled nicely. In bits and pieces, the backstory to Charlie is revealed which I thought was a great framing device in that we always have something to look forward to. It’s not perfect by any measure though, as there were a couple of places where I felt that the movie was getting too indulgent for its own good.
As for the performances, everyone brings their A-game to the table. I’ve always been a big admirer of Parvathy and her incredibly expressive eyes, and she doesn’t disappoint. Her rustic appearance comes into play wonderfully for Tessa, the almost hippy. Dulquer is charming and completely owns the frames that he is in, though I think now is the time for him to do something different. Nedumudi Venu is always a delight and I loved how his sub-plot turns the tables around for Charlie. The actress who played Kani was also effective.
But the man of the movie for me is probably Gopi Sundar, the music director, who lends an almost ethereal background score and equally impressive songs that gel so well with the mood of the film.
Charlie might not feature in the greatest Malayalam films of 2015, but it sure has got its heart in the right place and delivers on its promise to feed you a delectable meal for your senses.
My non-Indian followers: keep scrolling, keep scrolling.
Premam is one of the most entertaining movie I’ve watched in a long time. The Malayalam industry has once again proved why it’s so far ahead it terms of pure film making. Forget large-scale, forget star power, forget item numbers – Premam is a simple journey into the very basic instinct of us all. Love. Love in all its colors and shapes.
I’ll say this. Tollywood can make a Baahubali but it can never make a Premam. Period
Now where do I even start, I’ll probably try doing a bullet point list like Bharadwaj Rangan:
- Nivin Pauly is adorable as George Davidson. He shows subtle differences in his persona as he matures through the years and is so damned believable as well. I thought his character was a bit flat and could have had more layers, but you don’t think about it when you’re watching the movie. And he ends up running a bakery! Wasn’t expecting that at all.
- All the three leading ladies were exceptionally well cast. But it is the character Malar, and I hear she has become quite a sensation now, who steals the show and overshadows almost everyone in the film. Sai Pallavi, the actress, infuses her with such a fresh charm that no wonder everyone’s going crazy for her. And get this – she’s Tamilian, she’s got pimples that the director does not hide, she dances like a diva, and her deep voice, man it’s still ringing in my ears! Gautam Menon’s Jessie seems very boring all of a sudden.
- My other favourite was Vimal Sir, the one who has a crush on Malar as well. The way he says “Java is robust! Java is safe!” had me in splits.
- Jojo. This guy was cute and probably had a subplot that wasn’t expanded upon. But I liked his cheerful presence. And that one scene with the telephone, LOL!! The audience went bonkers!
- Butterflies as a recurring motif. And the fact that they even got the movie’s title in Malayalam shaped like a butterfly.
- The spellbinding cinematography which is part of the reason for the film’s ‘mood’. Very muted “pastel” colors, with a lot of green and white. And then there’s the perfect Depth Of Field in every shot. Also, no one captures the Sun and its rays better than Keralites.
- I was not enamored by the songs – except Malare that is. Everything good about Malayalam cinema in a single song. and it doesn’t get any better. This one, again, is currently a rage in Kerala. Partly due to the fact that the director cleverly chose to hold off the song until the movie release.
- Here it is. Notice everything I mentioned before – the cast, the cinematography, the sunlight, the way the camera moves in and out. Other DOPs need to really take a leaf out of this.
- It’s good how the supporting cast is mostly not turned into caricatures in Mollywood, at least in the movies that I have seen. How delightful were the the hero’s friend group? Never relegated to being just sidekicks, they are his voice of reason and support him in every step.
- And finally, that twist at the end. Who would have thunk?