Friday, May 22, 2009

Zarina Wahab cannot lift Calendar

An exploration of the psyche of a single mother' is enough to summarise the new Malayalam film Calendar; the debut directorial venture by former actor Mahesh.

On the face of it, there are lots of things going for this film, including a stellar star cast with Prithviraj, Navya Nair and yesteryear heartthrob Zarina Wahab. Scripted by Babu Janardhanan and based on a short story by M D Radhika, the film tells the story of a widow named Thankam George (Zarina Wahab), whose world revolves around her daughter Kochurani (Navya Nair).

This tale will sound familiar as it is similar to Achuvinte Amma, actress Urvasi's comeback film released a few years back. There are just some cosmetic differences in the narrative as Janardhanan uses a complicated form with flashbacks and other tools to confuse the viewer. He even pads up his script with silence and psychological tricks to give it profundity.

Coming back to the story, it gets a third angle by the virtue of the daughter's lover. Sojappan (Prithviraj) is a fun-loving, rich youngster dabbling in many businesses. Sojappan makes a formal proposal for Kochurani's hand through a mutual family friend played by ever dependable Jagathy Sreekumar. Thankam dissuades Sojappan by telling him to severe ties with both of them, as she does not wish to be separated from her daughter.

From here, the story gets dizzy making the viewer reel under its spell without having any inkling where it is headed.

There are a few patches where the film works and others where it cannot hold it together. Since it's the director's first attempt, we have to be lenient. But the lack of freshness in the story-telling stands out as a sore thumb. One may argue that Prithviraj's character has a humorous undercurrent, quite a novelty. Still, we have seen him handle lighter roles in films like Chocolate and a couple of his Tamil outings.

Zarina Wahab's comeback is lacklustre to say the least as her character does not have the desired depth. Even her performance does not illuminate the haphazard narrative.

That leaves only Navya Nair to cast a spell. And she does try to weave some magic into her outing in a commercial venture in Malayalam after a long time.

The humour too feels like compartmentalised with Mallika Sukumaran, Jagathy Sreekumar, Manianpillai Raju and Mukesh given the responsibility to pull it off. The veterans do a decent job.

Calendar -- made by a first time firector, with the backing of an experienced scriptwriter Babu Janardhanan and an exceptional cast -- is an average film, and its title is still an enigma.


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