Debutant director Shyam's '8:20' is a film that could very well boast of a premise that is unexplored in Malayalam cinema. However it remains that '8:20' could have made a crisper, biting short film that runs for less than ten minutes instead of a wilting feature that goes on for a couple of hours.
Shyam (Arjun Nandakumar) wakes up from a dream at 8:20 in the morning, and gets ready for appearing for an exam. His fiancee Ruchi (Avantika Mohan) arrives at his flat and fixes him a sandwich before she leaves for the hospital to meet her ailing dad. In the course of the day, they cross ways time and again, until a dreadful accident changes their lives forever.
The campus sequences are a real pain, and for the most part end up a yawn. A retro day is on in full swing, and while an exam is going on, songs get blared full on. Guys roam about wearing bell bottoms and polka shirts, while girls get ready to prance around in 80's wear.
It's the time for jokes, and Bijukuttan and co try to bring in some mirth to the proceedings by throwing in a bawdy joke or two. The infrequent , really hilarious gag is gone in two seconds, and its back to more inane sequences that get less funnier by the minute.
Around midpoint, the film reaches a climax, and then restarts from the beginning much to our surprise. It's here that it moulds itself into one of those movies that has a dream or a vision coming true, and in no time it instigates your sagging interest.
And the tale is retold yet again, and for the ones who have been observant enough, the slight alterations between the dream and reality that are purposeful, are quite apparent. Which is why, if you are discerning enough and trying out the possible climactic combinations in your mind, the end should strike you way before it actually transpires.
The script gets pretty much interesting half way through, but what makes '8:20' a let-down is the way in which it has been conceptualized. The acting remains pretty much mediocre throughout and the silences in between are nothing short of awkward.And it's not very easy to see the whole tale being retold, especially when there are songs involved that get re-sung as well!
It's as if the film has been played on loop and the final sequence almost takes you back to the start yet again. For a moment, you wonder about the crankiness of the concept that is almost delightful and shake your head at the thought that this is a film that could have been infinitely better.
But it should be stated that whule Arjun Nandakumar does a decent job of playing Shyam, Avantika Mohan plays it way over the top, with her performance bordering on the hysteric occasionally. Vijayaraghavan and Poojappura Ravi are around as well, and Bijukkuttan vigorously sticks to his trademark buffoonery. There are a couple of supporting artistes at least who could do with a few acting lessons.
As a film '8:20' leaves a lot to be desired and at times even comes across as a fidgety attempt. I'd yet go ahead with 2 stars for '8:20' simply because I'm all admiration for the director who has dared to give this markedly diverse attempt at film making a try.
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