In Canvas, each scene drags on for what seems infinity without any purpose. The trouble is that it underscores the obvious too often, while the narrative remains as skimpy as ever.
Kalabhavan Mani plays Manaf Hussain, a painter - cum - dramatist who is busy directing his new play. Assisting him is the super talented Ramu (Kannan) who even painfully acts out every scene to the actors. And there is none other than the busy star of Bollywood, Madhuri (Vidya) who has found inspiration in their play, and who has agreed to be a part of it.
With this as the basic setting, the film goes on to tell something for about two hours that hardly correlate with each other. This is why the film soon drops into a dead zone and remains there for its entire running time.
The story that Manaf decides to adapt for the stage is that of Yayathi's, the celebrated king of the Lunar dynasty who falls in love with both Devayani and Sharmishta. A major part of the film is spent discussing the relevance of the story and how it could serve as a metaphor for the modern times.
This film could perhaps have made its points much more believable if its creators hadn't deliberately tried to emphasize and explain at length every one of those small points. The dwelling on the Puranic story is a bit too much indeed, with Yayathi and Sharmishta going on and on about the mystery called life.
There are unjoined ends galore in the film. Take a look at a bunch of villains for instance. A group of four men who keep shouting at the top of their voices as to how the story of Yayathi would spell doom on their political careers if depicted on stage. So they decide to put an end to the story and the story writer.
Madhuri has the customary guardian; some lady who had saved her from the Red Street and had helped her build a career in films. Pressurized by the demands of Akka, Madhuri has found solace in being Sharmishta. As Manaf takes up Madhuri's protection, Akka retreats in defeat, but warns that the most powerful man who 'owns' Madhuri would turn up.
We wait with bated breath for this man, whom even the four baddies are talking about. And he finally arrives, has a screen time of about ten seconds and disappears. So much for all the spectacular build up.
Even the acting is pretty uneven. Barring Kalabhavan Mani (who is made to mouth some Malayalam that could give any expert orator a run for his money) the rest of the actors never leave much of a mark.
This Canvas puts up a picture painted all wrong. The brushes are blunt; strokes are bad and the stains all messed up.
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