23 Dec

For Malayalam cinema, Christmas season is one of the most rewarding slots after Onam, and Vishu. Many of the Mohanlal biggies like “Manjil Virinja Pookkal”, “Chithram”, “Vietnam Colony”, “Manichithrathazhu”, “Aaraam Thampuran”, “Thanmathra” and “Drishyam” were released during the Christmas time. So, when the release date of “Neru” was announced as 21 December, that itself created a curiosity in me and I wish to say that Jeethu Joseph-Mohanlal combination has struck gold again in the box-office through the film. “Neru” produced by Antony Perumbavoor ‘tag lined’ as “an emotional courtroom drama” begins with a rape case reported at the Thumba Police station. The victim is a blind girl named Sara (brilliantly played by Anaswara Rajan), daughter of Mohammed (Jagadeesh) and Parveen (Sreedhanya). Sara is also an excellent sculptor and she shapes the image of the perpetrator the next day. The case is handled by Paul Varghese (Ganesh Kumar) and within no time, the culprit is identified who is a spoiled brat, the son of a corporate businessman (by Sankar Induchoodan and don’t know how Jeethu finds such apt persons). The family files the case and decides to fight. Rajashekhar (Siddique), a high-profile lawyer appears as the defense counsel along with his daughter Adv. Poornima and through his astute accounts in court, the judge gets convinced and grants bail for the accused. 

Soon, as per the advice of Paul Varghese and Ahana (played by Santhi Mayadevi, who is also the co-writer of the film), Mohammed decides to hand over the case to Advocate Vijayamohan (Mohanlal) who is on a sabbatical. He says, “I’ve lost that touch. I’m not confident anymore” (which many fans have equated to Mohanlal’s career itself) but due to the pressure from Ahana, goes and meets Sara. 

Finally, Adv. Vijayamohan turns as the public prosecutor of Sara and from that point onwards, the film turns out to be a tussle of arguments and emotions. As the trial begins, the question is whether justice will be served to the girl or not. As the plot has a few unexpected turns and twists, I do not wish to reveal that. The film ends with a poignant climax and a tail-end which I’m sure will leave you in tears and also feeling goosebumps. Jeethu Joseph has once again created magic on screen and special mention to Santhi Mayadevi for giving somewhat a real courtroom experience on screen. 

Satheesh Kurup deserves a huge commendation for wielding the camera in a limited space as 80% of the scenes are set in the courtroom ambience. I was reminded of the film “Clash” (2016), where the camera is placed inside the police van for almost all the time. Similarly, the audience won’t feel bored as Satheesh has beautifully captured the emotions and actions of the characters. Vishnu Shyam with his music and Vinayak V.S. with his editing have done justice to the film. Finally, coming to the actors, I strongly believe that “Neru” is a performance-oriented film. Anaswara Rajan has given her career-best performance as the blind Sara and she’s so natural that the audience also will feel her pain. I’m sure, the spectators will travel along with her and experience a ‘catharsis’ at the end. I hope Anaswara will get more substantial roles in future too.

Siddique as Adv. Rajashekhar is outstanding with his body-language, confidence and power. Jagadeesh as Sara’s father is amazing alongside Priyamani, Sreedhanya, Ganesh Kumar, Dinesh Prabhakar, Nandu and Mathew Varghese who appears as the judge. I felt happy to see people like Poojappura Radhakrishnan, Krishnaprabha, Reshmi Anil and so on again on big screen. Finally, coming to Adv. Vijayamohan played by Mohanlal. As a huge admirer of his works, I felt happy to see him regaining his touch. I saw many people in tears as they clapped and laughed even for the minor nuances of expressions delivered by Mohanlal on screen. Thanks Jeethu Joseph for bringing the Mohanlal that we love back to form. The success of a Mohanlal film is crucial for the industry too as it can bring huge profits.  As Vijayamohan, Mohanlal is astonishing, the emotions, rendering of dialogues, gestures and all. Towards the end, as Priyamani’s character says, “I’m happy that you’re back” and in fact, we’re happy that you’re back. 

“Neru” also proves why Jeethu Joseph is regarded as one of the best in business. His writing is quite good with many tropes and metaphors and certain shots will haunt you for some time. References to the movie, “Drishyam” invokes laughter especially due to its placement. Though it’s the old wine in a new bottle, “Neru” holds up well and for the same reason, one can overlook at the minor lapses. The film is a poignant tale with many layers and socially relevant concerns and as Vijayamohan states, “it is a story of courage and resilience”. Do watch “Neru” and I’m sure it will give you some priceless moments to cherish…

Ranjith Krishnan 

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