Last year the box office success of Abrahaminte Santhathikal confirmed my suspicion that when embellished with some pointless twists, even the most pathetically cobbled together script can hit a home run. With Mikael, the writer, Haneef Adeni turns up the idiocy quotient a notch or two. Only this time he trades the pointless twists for mass entertainment tropes. Sidique plays an unrepentant psychopath of sorts. There are characters shamed and guilted into doing the unthinkable. And then there is Mikhael (Nivin Pauly), a clumsy, timid doctor whose guilt ridden mannerism almost invites us to think about his troubled past. While the demystification of the titular character is left for the second half of the movie, half way into the film I couldn’t help wonder whether such a cornball character needed any explanation.
Not only did Nivin seem out of depth in this role, he seemed to carry the burden of an overwrought script. The story had neither the thriller dynamics nor the compelling drama that could induce me to see the importance of caring for its central characters. Unni Mukundhan plays the criminally handsome villain who following an introduction scene to establish his capacity for evil, disappears from the story all together and reappears when I’d almost forgotten about the character. The trailer released earlier deceived me into thinking that he had an anti-hero role. But he plays a stock villain with a penchant for scatological humor.
For the most part, Mikhael is a formulaic revenge story whose contents were as jumbled as those inside the room where Thor and Hulk just fought each other. Yeah, it’s messy. With characters drifting in and out without leaving much of an impression, and narrative incoherence starring at your face, when the film reveals its secrets you are not so much shocked as revealed, knowing that now you can leave the theater and never think about these characters again. To writer’s credit, he makes great use of dramatic irony to produce situational comedy. But soon the realization dawns on you that the comic relief was meant to serve as a counterpoint to an action packed drama which it was not.
While writing a review of a movie that I consider worthy of merciless trashing, I find myself asking this question: Are the makers of this movie so convinced of its merits or lack thereof that they take for granted things like logic, science and the patience of the average movie goer. To an extent, I’ve observed that Malayalam movies suffer from lack of novel ideas. Movies like Mikhael not only lend credence to my observation, but make one lament industry’s refusal to do away with this thing called ‘Mass’. Having seen it spawn a handful of abominable potboilers, one would actually hope to see the back of it by now. Well, not so fast my fellow movie lovers. The mass factor just like the shape-shifting clown in movie IT, has a knack of finding its way back into frames.
The ‘mass’ rears its ugly head every now and then, sometimes leaving you gaping at the foolishness of it all, and at other times butchering with real vengeance an otherwise decent movie like Varathan. It’s difficult to shed light on the mechanisms of ‘mass’ because it has a supposedly endearing effect on one section of movie goers, but a disturbing effect on the other section of the same. I got to experience Mass in its most unadulterated form in the film Mikhael, so no prize for guessing the film’s effect on me. Of course, exposing yourself to occasional doses of mass treatment will give you better coping mechanisms. It helps when you knowingly go to a bad movie just so you can write an honest review of it. It’s the biggest monster that continues to eat away at the foundation of Malayalam movie industry. It is also one of the many stumbling blocks in Malayalam movies progression towards greatness.