It must be difficult to make a biopic. How do you create drama in a much-told story when the audience knows all too well how it plays out in the end? The answer would be to focus on strongly developed characters that will engage and move viewers, and inspire them long after the movie is over.
Veteran director Harikumar already has on hand some of the most inspiring real-life characters for his film on artistic prodigy Edmund Thomas, popularly known as Clint. As the story is so well known, we don't need to announce a spoiler-alert when we say the child died one month short of his seventh birthday. In fact, in an innovative style, the film opens documentary-style with the director in a short conversation with Clint's parents and leads on to the cinematic account of roughly the last year of his life.
Cute Master Alok really gets into the skin of Clint, skillfully portraying in turns the playful, petulant, artistic and downcast nuances of the character.
Unni Mukundan and Rima Kallingal share a lovely chemistry as M T Joseph and Chinnamma, portraying both the joy and sorrow of their characters with welcome restraint. Joseph and Chinnamma are awestruck and pleasantly confused about their child's special gift to create art beyond the scope of his years and understood it as an almost ethereal gift that they must nurture.
They are largely spurred on to encourage the boy's skills by close family friend and late artist G Mohanan, played by a very wooden Vinay Forrt, and Renji Panikkar in a well-played cameo as an art critic. Ilayaraaja's score is fittingly poignant, particularly in the 'Olathin Melathaal' song, which very creatively and attractively melds in Clint's works into the backdrop.
Harikumar researched Clint's life for about a year, but, surprisingly, the film plays out in a one-dimensional manner, focusing closely on only the child's prodigious gifts.
When the film does go into a bit of creative digression in a sequence about Clint getting a haircut, it is long drawn out; on the whole, the film could have done with a bit of tight editing.
But in a master stroke, the real Joseph and Chinnamma are given about half a minute of screen time at the very end in a well-executed sequence that is sure to stay with the viewer for a long time. While the film has its faults – mainly in it being too long – it is a worthy addition to the Clint narrative.