'916' is a film that looks like a UFO that has landed in an alien land. It might have seemed familiar had it been released a good twenty years back, but in 2012, it sticks out like a sore thumb in the melee of cinematic experiments.
Dr. Hari (Anoop Menon) has brought up his daughter Meera (Malavika Menon) alone, ever since his wife Lekshmi (Monica) had deserted them for a better life in the UK. Years later, the father and daughter find their lives shaken up all on a sudden, when Lekshmi decides to pay her daughter a visit.
The film attempts to hold a mirror on to the society, and comes up with a few observations. For starters, there is a suggestion that serious trouble stems from internet cafes. The cafe manager sports a sinister smile on his face, as he almost lures the three school girls in, and later we get to see a couple of boys eagerly ogling over a video that they have just been furnished with.
The doctor who has modeled his life on the likes of Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi has opted to serve the nation and its people by offering his service to a local government hospital. His typical middle class background and modest salary somehow doesn't tally with the palatial bungalow where he resides with his daughter.
I have nothing against social criticism through films. The problem arises when the film itself gets too dogmatic, caught in the breadth and length of the dictums that it declares loud and clear.
The worst part of '916' is the courting bit. Lekshmi is head over heels in love with her professor, who rebuffs her overtures with increasing determination. The reason is that he sees no future in marrying a doctor who holds tremendous professional potential. This makes Lekshmi even break out into a song, pursuing her love with a greater resolve than ever before.
What is most funny about the film, is that while on the one hand it proclaims the need to hold fast to family values and ideals, it throws in an item number on your face in the name of a pizza joint inauguration. Skimpily clad lasses get to twist and turn around in a dance that clearly lacks 916 purity.
I strongly prefer Anoop Menon the writer to Anoop Menon the actor, and '916' has further conditioned my preferences. It's no great fun to see Anoop playing a role that had been essayed by Mammootty and Mohanlal to perfection several times, several years ago. Of the performers Malavika Menon, the new find, has done a commendable job as the young girl torn between her parents, and is a face twtahc out for. Monica, makes a comeback indeed, but not one that would benefit her much in the long run.
Believe me, there is a whole lot of spoon feeding going on, since the makers really want us to take home some message really worthy. But regrettably the spoon left for far too much a time leaves a real bad taste in your mouth.