Swa Le Malayalam Movie ReviewFeature Film
It isn't exactly an easy task to craft a film that runs for about two and a half hours with an idea that would barely take up a couple of minutes in your thoughts. P. Sukumar's directorial debut that attempts to do exactly this is like its protagonist who runs hither and thither with no specific purpose.
Unni Madhavan (Dileep) is a journalist with the Jana Chintha daily in the 80's, who slogs himself off to make both ends meet. His pregnant wife Vimla (Gopika) slowly starts experiencing bouts of anxiety and depression, as her husband's erratic work schedules force him to stay away from her for longer periods of time. Unni finds his life turned upside down all on a sudden, when he is assigned the task of covering a story on celebrated writer Palazhi Sivasankara Pillai (Nedumudi Venu), who's on his death bed.
It all sounds like material for a fine film, until you get to see it unfurl on screen. Death is the lingering theme through out, and everyone waits with baited breath for Palazhi to pass away. It isn't a pleasant experience for neither the journalists who have camped outside Palazhi's house to grab an exclusive the moment his breath comes to a stop. Nor is it for us, who soon become exasperated with practically nothing happening in the film.
It so happens that often Unni reaches the river side late at night, when the ferry man had long gone home. He stays at the river bank for the night, yearningly looking at his house at the opposite side. Ironically this remains a metaphor for the film itself with the director and script on one side of the river and the audience at the other end. They just keeping looking at each other and precisely no communication ever ensues.
Time has turned back a good twenty years in the film, and its 1989. And Salim Kumar walks in, dressed in cargo trousers even as the rupee notes do smell of the 80's and the mobile phones are kept out of the scene. I guess the emphasis wasn't too much on the visual recreation of the late 80's as was on the spirit that ruled the time.
There are very few scenes in the film that you would take back home with you. As Unni climbs into a canoe that takes him across the river, he talks to his fellow passengers about a boat that had sunk last night. The fear that grips their faces immediately slips down to their arms as they clutch on vigorously to the sides of the boat. A splendid scene in an otherwise mundane flurry of sequences.
When it comes to double entendres, Swa Le takes the crown. It might perhaps bring the house down in laughter, but they hold relatively zilch significance in a film that otherwise is a bit too much bothered about professional ethics and what not.
Dileep is the best (and probably the only) reason that makes Swa Le worth a watch. This is another role after Passenger that he bites his teeth into with a vengeance. He delivers the goods, and I wish there was some support around in the writing bit as well to see to it that his efforts would be appreciated. Gopika is quite competent, playing the 'too pregnant' wife, and delivers (no pun intended) an adequate performance.
Swa Le loses out on its only point somewhere midway, and the rest of it is merely mindless fluff. As much as it rues the celebration of disasters by the media, the film remains a celebration of a disastrous script.