3 Char Sau Beas Review
Adoor Govidankutty's '3 Char Sau Beas' is a film that I would like to believe to be experimental. It doesn't follow any conventional format visually and the narrative follows suit, proceeding this way and that before it reaches a dead end and collapses.
The film has three Engineering college students Selvan (Govindankutty), Rahul and Zulfi (played by actors by the same names) robbing ATMs when they are not attending college. The lure of money leads them on to bigger crimes and when their college mate Indu (Dhanya Mary Varghese) plays a prank on them by planting a webcam in their house, the trio comes up with a fantastic idea. Disguised as marketing executives, they managed to sell off a few cameras to a local millionaire (Salim Kumar), and plant them in his house under the pretence of surveillance.
Little does Mr. Richie realize that the boys would be constantly monitoring his house from their place. What the boys do get to see is sacks of money being delivered to a secret chamber in the house. When they arrive at night to plunder the chest, they find a dead millionaire instead.
Its here that the film does a somersault and turns into a murder mystery. This makes it look all the more confused, since a villain turns out to be the dire need of the hour. And of course, there is no villain in sight. The makers look around and find someone passing by and voila! They have a baddie raring to go.
The script looks and often sounds like it's the handiwork of some mischief maker who wants to shout 'Gotcha' on the viewer's face. For the most part, it contains crass, and often extremely casual dialogue that you get to hear among adolescent boys who have just uttered their very first cuss word.
More than the jokes, most of which fizzle out faster than burst balloons, what is indeed funny is the reason that is quoted for the delinquent behavior exhibited by the youngsters. Selvan says that it's a tough thing studying in an engineering college along with rich brats, where money and power rule over everything else. The three of them hence have no other option but to resort to petty thefts to keep their heads above the water.
Post interval, the story takes some real weird turns with Selvan's dad (Kalabhavan Mani) returning from jail. We also learn that Selvan is an orphan who has been raised by his father, who in turn happens to be the chieftain of a village called Thiruttu gramam. No prizes for guessing that its inhabitants are all thieves.
The last ten minutes of the film is the sole part where something really interesting takes place. The climax is indeed a surprise, and would have worked brilliantly well, if only the two and a half hours preceding it had made any sense.
On the whole, '3 Char Sau Beas' is a big bundle of nonstarters. There is a whole lot of 'Char Sau Beas'-ness happening in the film, and the real victim is the unsuspecting viewer who has been conned to believe that he is actually watching a film.
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