In 'Neram', Alphonse Puthran tries to infuse some fresh imagination into a been-there-done-that scenario and succeeds in parts. The notions hold little promise, but the adrenaline driven execution lights up things quite a bit.
Mathew (Nivin Pauly) is an engineer who has lost his job in Chennai on account of a very peculiar bombing. He marries off his sister, borrowing money from notorious money lender Vatti Raja (Simhaa), and months later when unable to pay him back, finds the goon hot on his heels. Too add to his misery, his love Jeena (Nazriya Nazim) has decided to elope with him, and her dad Johny Kutty (Lalu Alex) has lodged a complaint against him at the local police station.
Quite ironically all the disclaimers that the makers have come up with have a very valid point to make. For starters, there is the inspiration quote from Tarantino himself, and 'Neram' does seem to have taken it up a bit too seriously. The hangover of QT films is definitely there, though I mean it in a very positive way.
The posters did claim that this was a film that had nothing new to it. And yes, amen to that. It's a story that is as old as cinema itself, and the struggler protagonist juggling between a love life, financial constraints and a threat to his own life are all that we have seen so many, many times before. So the expected excuse would be that the treatment is different. But with so many Tamil, and even some Malayalam films churned out in the same format, even the treatment is nothing much to brag about.
But, 'Neram' does have a few remarkable moments, that appear at the most unexpected of occasions. One such scene is the one in which Mathew seeks help from his friend to pay the restaurant bills. As they say, sometimes the whole universe conspires against you and this is one such instance. But the impact is truly hilarious.
Another genuinely humorous moment is the query that comes out of the business magnate's (Manoj K Jayan) mouth, when Mathew presents his academic qualifications before him. And yes, there is also the sub inspector Ukken Tintu (Shammi Thilakan) whom we wouldn't forget in a hurry.
But these sparse comic events do not make a spectacular film, that continues to be obsessed with a theme, the pursing of which is akin to flogging a dead horse. Which is why, though entertaining in parts, the formula that remains all too visible throughout the film turns out to be the chief reason for its lack of that very special sparkle.
At the very end, comes another admission from Mathew, that so many questions remain. Oh yeah, they sure do. And it all ends like a fairy tale, where you open baskets that lie along your way and find treasures hidden inside, and life turns out to be a haven thereafter. But then, who said cinema needs to be realistic, huh? No one said, it needn't be either.
Performance wise, its Simhaa, Manoj K Jayan and Shammi Thilakan who are the winners this time around, while the leading pair Nivin Pauly and Nazriya Nazim take the back seat. It's certainly not that they aren't impressive, but 'Neram' isn't a film that is really about them alone. In fact the focus in the latter half is anywhere but on them. Technically, the film is top-notch, without doubt.
There are some appealing ideas that are generated in 'Neram', but the efforts to follow them through aren't always there. Perhaps, something that wasn't so run-of-the-mill could have made Alphonse Puthran's directorial debut much more interesting. It isn't a good time or a bad time really; it falls and stays put somewhere in the middle, but it's an entertaining middle nevertheless.