SAJ isn't essentially your next door hero. Having rearticulated the attributes that one by and large associates with a champion a couple of decades back, he has been around for a while in almost every Malayali film lover's psyche, etched in precise and quite detailed strokes. And when he decides to make a fabulous comeback, it's a strange predicament that the viewer finds himself in.
For one, this is unquestionably the biggest talked about sequel in the history of Malayalam cinema. The stakes are high and so is the anticipation, and add to it an extravagant ad campaign that sees to it that not a sand grain is left unturned. And for another, here is a film that promises to set off a dynamite explosion with a lethal actor-director combo, hitherto unseen on screen.
It's with much difficulty that we finally get to see SAJ making an impressive entry, finally brushing aside quite a few diverters. He's back in Kerala on Indu's (Shobhana) behest, and without much trouble manages to save her kidnapped husband (Manoj K Jayan). Two and a half hours later he flies back as smoothly as he had landed.
Any questions? Oh yes, plenty!
To Swamy's credit, the story has been left as uncomplicated as it possibly can be. It's sadly as unimaginative as well. SAJ gets busy kicking off A, B & C off his track, who team up with D, E & F. Wielding all kinds revolvers, bullets, missiles, shells, grenades and bombs, he goes on a bump-off ride until all the letters of the alphabet are cleared off, and the slate left clean. This is an enemy fleet that we are talking about here; not an itsy-bitsy villain brandishing a hand gun.
It's a junkyard of a script with piles of pure, unadulterated trash lying all round. What confounds me is how Swami managed to get the superstar nod for this absolute garbage that defies all patterns of narrative. An opportunity totally squandered, there are more than a few people associated with this film who deserved a better fate, the central one being the protagonist. What makes such tattered character development all the more offensive is that SAJ has brought together a treasure house of acting talent and then let it be redundant.
Probably SAJ might appear an average fare to a few, and middling is something a superhero cannot be. SAJ is an abhorrent movie in which potential exploits are sideswiped in favor of runny characterization and bland dialogue that feels like it was lifted straight off a late night soap that was taken off air due to its abysmal viewer ratings.
All those comparisons with Neerad's directorial debut Big B are inevitable. Especially since it almost seems like a technical rehash of the former film. There are any number of frames that serve as instant reminders of the visual delight that Big B was. Thematically though unlike Big B, SAJ is mired with issues that nobody would care a damn about.
SAJ is 'swear breaking' if not exactly path breaking, if you take into account that one singular utterance that falls out of Lal's mouth that's later repeated twice as the credits roll up on the screen. It ain't everyday that you get to hear it on screen. And Lal spices it up with a definitive 'F*** off', that pales in comparison to the preceding Malayalam equivalent.
The requisite eye candy if you are on the look out for it, emerges out of the sand and surf and breaks into a gig on the Goan beach. No tears, no regrets, coos Jyothirmayi in a sensational appearance, perhaps avowing a lousy excuse for this gigantic budget action caper that never delivers on its premise or promises.
It's not a customary case of the propaganda working against the prospects. For, SAJ is merely a trailing contender among an excess of superhero movies. And if there is ever a follow-up, as unlikely as it is, I hope it turns out to be better. It could hardly be any worse.