'Netholi' isn't a consistently enjoyable film that you would fall in love with over the weekend. It does prod your thoughts however, and keeps you intellectually engaged.
V K Prakash trudges into a world of fantasy with his latest film 'Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla', even as his protagonist struggles hard like the anchovy to prove a point. The film takes a while to reach there, stays put promisingly for a little while, and lets go again making you wish that the tiny fish had tried perhaps, a little bit harder.
Preman (Fahad Fazil) who works as a caretaker of a plush residential flat, is treated like crap by the rest of the world. His self esteem drops down to point zero, and when he feels that he could take it no longer, he takes up the pen to wreak revenge on those who have been hell bent on making his life miserable. Etching out a self-assured character named Narendran (Fahad again), Preman starts living life anew through the tip of his pen.
You cannot however help thinking of Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris', while watching the film. The apparent similarities between the two films are infinitely low, but the central themes that both the films dwell on seem to have ebbed out of similar thought streams. Where 'Natholi' fails in comparison to the Hollywood film is in its implementation.
The central thought from which 'Natholi' originates is one which offers tremendous potential to the writer in each one of us. The poise and assurance that breezes into your own self as you put your pen down on paper, or as you key in those free flowing words on to the monitor, offers the writer a sense of liberation that no other life situation could perhaps proffer him.
The notion that you are in control of not just your own life, but the lives of several individuals around you is addictive. You try moving your pen this way and that making them dance to your tunes, leaving them exhausted and finally give up, having grown tired of playing God. But the thought, as I have affirmed already is intriguing.
Where V K Prakash's film loses out on, is that it fails to make the essential connections with the audience, that are so imperative for an experimental film as 'Natholi' to work. On the contrary, it leaves the viewers vexed, and comes to an abrupt end, when the writer runs out of ink. Neither the magical realism nor the witty repartees serve to draw in the viewer into Narendran's world, and had they done so, 'Natholi' would have been a different kind of a film altogether.
This certainly does not mean that the script is sans surprises. Even as one wonders why a self-confessed polytechnic dropout chooses and manages to write a story that is predominantly penned in impeccable English, one remains amused by the sparks of astuteness that appear every now and then in the film. And it even catches you totally off-guard on a couple of moments, and I mean it in a very positive way.
Fahad continues his impressive act with 'Natholi', and his double role performance in the VKP film is as imposing as ever. Kamalini is quite striking in her role as well, while the rest of the actors add up to the charm. P Balachandran in a cameo seems to be having a whale of a time, basking in the plethora of roles that he has been flooded with of late, and is remarkably good.
'Natholi' isn't a consistently enjoyable film that you would fall in love with over the weekend. It does prod your thoughts however, and keeps you intellectually engaged. Small fish it certainly ain't; but then, it ain't really big fish either.
2.5 out of 5 (Fairly Good)
WHAT THE RATINGS MEAN:
0.0 - 1.4 : Poor
1.5 - 1.7: Poor, A Few Good Parts
1.8 - 2.3: Okay
2.4 - 2.9: Fairly Good
3.0 - 3.4: Good
3.5 - 5.0: Very Good