Dear Friend Malayalam Movie
Director Vineeth Kumar's Dear Friend is a film that revolves around a group of friends in Bangalore. Arjun Radhakrishnan, Sanchana Natarajan, Tovino Thomas, Arjun Lal, Basil Joseph, and Darshana Rajendran play the main characters with common interests who hang out often in their Bangalore house. Darshana plays a mental health counselor, whereas the men play techies who look to build a health app about diabetes.
Vineeth shows us a lived-in world and a close-knit group that you want to be part of. The treatment of the movie is so good that it makes us want to eavesdrop on the conversations between the characters. The treatment feels authentic, and the performances are all wonderful.
For a large part, Dear Friend stays true to its title as it shows the pranks that some of these friends pull off on others. But soon, the movie undergoes a tonal shift that reduces the amount of comedy and lightheartedness as one of the characters disappears from the gang. The rest of the film involves the other characters trying to solve a mystery.
The subtle message at the heart of Dear Friend is dark and even a bit cynical. When you watch the posters and the trailer or read the title 'Dear Friend', you may think that it is a feel-good film. It is hardly a film that offers the so-called feel-good vibes. I mean that in a good way because writers Arun Lal, Sharfu and Suhas as well as director Vineeth Kumar break a lot of conventions and cliches here. For instance, the absence of songs in the movie is quite noticeable and commendable. There is no need for a song or two for the subject that the makers want to discuss.
Perhaps the makers could have shown a few things that contribute to the plot instead of communicating those things with exposition. A lot of the second half contains vignettes that contribute to exposition, which reduces the scope for acting and character development here. Nevertheless, the content in the movie is quite interesting throughout and makes us think about what friends are for.
The performances in the movie are all very good. Basil Joseph has the funniest lines in the movie and has a knack for comedy. Darshana Rajendran brings a great deal of authenticity to the role of the mental health expert. Tovino Thomas also has an interesting role with a bit more depth and nuances. Arjun Lal, Sanchana Natarajan, and Arjun Radhakrishnan are all excellent in their respective roles. Jaffar Idukki is just brilliant in one scene. We know everything we want to know about the character he plays from that scene itself.
Another notable aspect of the film is editing. I liked how Deepu Joseph connects one scene from the present to another moment from the past without breaking the sense of continuity. Shyju Khalid's night-time photography is also exceptional.
As for the flaws of the film, I did not have too many issues with the script. Perhaps the writers could have explored some aspects of the film a little more deeply. Besides, some audience members may find the central events in the film a bit vague. But if you are a fan of mystery in cinema, you might like how the makers use an open ending here. There are clues or hints in the earlier scenes that work as minor explanations for the ending. It is just that understanding the film fully requires more attentive viewing.