Thursday, February 10, 2011

Prithviraj is back with ‘Arjunan Saakshi’

Arjunan Saakshi is a good watch

The second film of any director is very important to gauge whether he has got staying power or no; especially if his first film was well received or a resounding success at the box office.

Director Ranjith Sankar's first film Passenger starring Srinivasan and Dileep was a surprise hit of 2009. After two long years, he returns with Arjunan Saakshi starring Prithviraj. So what's the verdict? Let's find out.

The film tells the story of a young architect Roy Matthew (Prithiviraj) who has spent his life outside the state but has now returned. As luck would have it, he is mistaken for Arjunan who in a letter to a newspaper has claimed to be the only witness to the murder of the city's former collector Firose Moopan (Mukesh) and is harassed from every side because of this. He is hounded by both Firose's killers and the media.

The seed of the story (also credited to the director) may have been inspired by the 1941 Hollywood classic Meet John Doe, but the comparison stops at the letter sent to a newspaper office. The movie then goes on to show how Roy single handedly brings the guilty to the book.

Though technically this film in some parts is better than Passenger, there are a few glaring blemishes like the action sequences, particularly the car chase that looks unreal and a bit stretched. Where it wins is in the character building.

The topicality of the subjects grab our attention completely like the scenes where Roy is shown carrying a fatally injured subordinate on his shoulders to the hospital because of a traffic jam caused by roadblocks created by a few property owners in the city's prime locations.

Prithviraj armed with a 'devil may care' attitude is a winner all the way. He looks dapper and suave as Roy. He even brings to the fore the playfulness of today's youth in the initial scenes. Ann Augustine, who plays a newspaper journalist Ajali Menon, ably supports Roy in his fight against corruption.

The supporting cast that includes veterans like Jagathy Srikumar and Nedumudi Venu is aptly cast though Biju Menon, Suresh Krishna and company who handle the villainy department have hardly anything to do as far as acting goes. They do however look menacing which they do with aplomb.

In the final analysis, Ranjith's much awaited second film does prove that he has the staying power.


Prithviraj is back with ‘Arjunan Saakshi’

Ranjith Shankar has done it again. The young man who surprised the viewers with the well made ‘Passenger’, his debut film, has come up with a much better effort, aesthetically and technically, in ‘Arjunan Sakshi’. Controlled performances from the lead pair, Prithviraj and Anne Augustine, add to the substance of the movie.

Though the title looks a little slow and tame, the film is made almost like a thriller. It is all about young architect Roy Mathew (Prithviraj), who leaves Mangalore to settle in Kochi, his native place. He comes into contact with reporter Anjali (Anne) quite accidentally and he is mistaken for Arjunan, who had written a letter to a daily saying that he knew the killers of district collector Firos Mooppan (Mukesh), but did not have the guts to come out into the open. Soon, Roy finds himself hounded by goons and ‘quotation’ gangs. The question is: Who is the real Arjunan? Why is he afraid of speaking the truth? What will happen if he spills what he knows?

Ranjith Shankar, who has written the script of the film, has done the first half of the film brilliantly. The way he pictures Kochi blows our minds off! The car chase scene where Roy is attacked by a group of goons in cars is enthralling, to say the least. Surely, not many Malayalam cinemas can boast of such stylish frames and shots. Two hours flit past the viewers in a jiffy. Ajayan Vincent, you are the hero in the film!

As we know, the biggest hurdles to development are posed not by the poor, but the elite business people who have lots to lose when prime lands are acquired. They do whatever they can, including murder, to get things done the way they want them to be done. Though ordinary people are witness to most of these atrocities, they are afraid to come into the open and speak the truth; because they are fearful of the consequences; because they fear that the system would never come to their rescue. It is here that Arjunans, fearless warriors for truth are required.

Just like in his debut film, he focusses on the rampant corruption that has our country at its mercy. But, in his overzealousness, he loses the plot somewhere in the middle of the second half. Also, the climax of the film looks amateurish when compared to the early portions. The director could have taken a little longer than he did to plug a few holes in the script.

Prithviraj is brilliant in the role of Roy and he gets good company in Anne. Though her part is rather small, she carries off her role like a veteran. Actors such as Nedumudi Venu, Jagathy Sreekumar, Suraj Venjaramood and Biju Menon have done just what they were required to. Bijibal’s music is good.

‘Arjunan Sakshi’ gives one a beautiful cinematic experience. For that alone, Malayali film buffs would be indebted to the young filmmaker.

For Prithviraj, reeling under the debacles of ‘Anwar’ and ‘Thriller’, ‘Arjunan Sakshi’ comes as a welcome relief. Indeed, here is a film he can be very proud of.

Verdict : Go, watch the movie!


Arjunan Saakshi : Watchable

Arjunan Saakshi
Ranjith Sankar
Biji Bal
Prithviraj, Ann Augustine

Director Ranjith Sankar, who surprised everyone with the well made movie Passenger is back with Arjunan Saakshi. The film starring Prithviraj and Ann Augustine talks about the need to be responsible and vigilant citizens in this country.

Roy Mathew (Prithviraj) is an architect, who has lived outside Kerala for most of his life, but has come back to his home-town to join a real estate firm. Meanwhile, a journalist Anjali Menon (Ann Augustine) gets into trouble when she publishes a letter from an unknown person called Arjunan, who has some crucial clues concerning the murder of the former district collector Firoze Mooppan (Mukesh). Soon after, Roy starts hogging the limelight as he is mistaken for ‘Arjunan’. The young man is totally shaken up by the sudden happenings as he has no real idea about the dramatic turnaround of events and he is soon targeted by some goons.

Well, we won’t play spoilsport and reveal much about the story as the highlight of the film is some of the surprising twists in the first half. In fact the initial scenes are genuinely thrilling and there are some really nice moments that hit you straightaway with its sincerity. However, the second half has less twists and turns compared to the first.

Ranjith, who has written the script besides directing it, has infused honesty into the story and has some genuine message to convey. The way in which Roy gets into the psyche of Arjunan is indeed interesting. But things get a bit preachy and predictable, especially towards the end and the script has some loose ends which raises question marks on the minds of the viewers. One of the highlights of the film is the spectacular visuals by Ajayan Vincent. Biji Bal’s music is good as well.

The anxieties of any “ordinary” citizen who can do nothing much other than rue about corruption and nepotism in our country, is perhaps reflected through Prithviraj’s character. The hero looks fine and delivers a nice performance. Ann Augustine, who shot into fame with her title role in Elsamma Enna Aankutty, is fine. The rest of the cast have also done their roles well.

No two ways about it, Arjunan Saakshi is certainly in a different league, when compared to the usual crop of films that we see in Malayalam nowadays. Still, one gets the feeling that the film is more inclined to the social issues which are being focused rather than on a gripping, cinematic experience. It makes you think about the state of affairs around you, which may be an achievement in itself.

Verdict : Watchable


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