Mohanlal’s brilliance is wasted here

A scene from the film 'Neerali'

Neerali

Rating: **

Cast: Mohanlal, Nadhiya, Parvaty Nair, Suraj Venjaramoodu

Director: Ajoy Varma

Mohanlal's case this year has been that of a patient desperate to find the right doctor. His problem is clear — the veteran wants to act his age and do roles that aren't regular commercial capers.

But proven directors (Lal Jose's Velipadinte Pusthakam, B Unnikrishnan's Villain and Major Ravi's 1971: Beyond Borders) haven't done justice to his enormous ability. With Neerali (Octopus), it appears that even the rookies are struggling to churn out an engaging film with one of the finest actors in the country. 

Neerali is a confused film. It's inability to stay true to at least one of the three genres attempted in it is a testimony to that. 

To begin with, Sunny George (Mohanlal), en route to meet his wife who is set to give birth to twins, is at the doorstep of death.

His jeep, driven by his office driver Veerappan (Suraj Venjaramoodu) is hanging over a cliff in a jungle following a horrific accident.

From the first impression of a survival drama, Neerali turns into a tale of relationships as a helpless George thinks about his wife (Nadhiya) and a "close" office colleague Naina (Parvati Nair).

Thanks to an insipid flashback, Neerali moves painfully slow in the first half. The characters lack depth. George's wife is shown as a jovial and even courageous woman, but also as someone who complains about her neighbour in the maternity hospital crying out of labour pain (No sensitivity?). 

Naina, who is obsessed with George, is heartbroken to know from him that it's nothing more than friendship between them. In another example of appalling screenwriting, Naina fails to understand the seriousness of the issue and dismisses it as a prank when George seeks help from the jungle. 

When it returns to the present, Neerali tries too hard to be a thriller. The portions don't have enough juice in them to keep us anxious about George's situation.

An episode with a monkey, where George seeks its help to get him out of a threatening situation, is outright silly. Technically, the glitches are glaring. And just because half the plot is set in a jungle, it doesn't mean the scenes have to be so dark that we need to strain hard to even see the faces of the characters (Where was the lightman?).  

Then there is a trick to glorify the hero, with George mouthing philosophical dialogues and turning large-hearted in the end. But none of these attempts work, as right from the beginning, we know Neerali is a losing battle.

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Mohanlal’s brilliance is wasted here

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