Neerali Review: it can make you run out of the theatre

Neerali Review - Mohanlal, Nadiya Moidu

Survival thriller is a genre Malayalam has not really tried. The new Mohanlal film Neerali is one such attempt that goes in vain because of the poorly written screenplay that doesn’t know how to structure thrill in a fresh way. Directed by Ajoy Varma, this film is insipid to the core. It almost makes you feel the writer of the film only understood the periphery of the films that inspired him.

A Bangalore based Gemologist Sunny George is coming to Kozhikode to see his pregnant wife. He is coming in a pickup truck along with his friend Veerappa. The vehicle, however, met with an accident and it ends up on the top of a cliff dangling dangerously. Now how Sunny eventually survives from this scenario is what the movie showing us.

Take any of the finest survival thrillers; you can see all of them having plot points that have a depth which makes them a deep-rooted tale. Here that rooting factor is zero. You know where everything heading to and due to the lack of convincing technical backup, even the visualizing isn’t becoming enticing. The escape tactics have no direction and towards the second half, when the conversation with a monkey and other stuff starts to happen, you will find the content really struggling to make sense. The women in the movie are either naïve or insensitive. The emotional loudness of each character isn’t an easy sight at a time commercially successful films are also using subtlety as a tool.

Where Ajoy Varma fails is in capturing the moments with realism. The glossy exaggerated screenplay needed a depiction that looked more authentic visually and emotionally. But here it was missing terribly. Sporadically a chanting like song pops up and it almost feels like Ajoy added it whenever the film felt too dull. The script is severely missing moments of intrigue and tension which are really significant in survival thrillers. The struggle of the screenplay in the second half is clearly evident and whatever they have tried to make it look like a metaphorical struggle fails. I still don’t understand why Sunny threw away his phone at a key moment. The cinematography is average and the edits have gone haywire not knowing when to cut back and forth. The low-quality visual effects got poor support from production designers.

Mohanlal looks slim and a bit weird. His acting lacks the signature ease in those moments of fun and tension. Suraj was fine in a character that was clearly made to create an emotional track which wasn’t working with the central protagonist’s story. Nadiya Moidu becomes an annoying memory whereas Parvatii Nair becomes a forgettable face. Nasser and Dileesh Pothan are the other two artists who appear in roles of zero impact.

The struggle of Sunny George and the audience can be similar as they both will seek freedom from what they are witnessing. If your exposure to survival thrillers is zero, Neerali could well be a low key starter pack.