Cast: Mohanlal, Kaniha, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Lena Nandu, Thilakan, Madhu
At a time when lengthy queues in front of Bevco outlets are being identified with God’s own country, writer-director Ranjith has shown fine spirit in coming up with a movie which acts as a mirror reflecting the Malayali’s addiction to alcohol. Experiencing the movie ‘Spirit’ is like realising the bleakness and ugliness of alcoholism, its hopeless trap and the value of love and relationship that it kills.
He starts his day with a black coffee, mixed with Cognac, and a cigarette in his shivering hands. This is Raghunandan (Mohanlal), the protagonist of ‘Spirit.’ An eminent journalist hosting a top-rated television show, Raghu has an unpleasant personal life. Father to a dumb and deaf son, the divorcee is a chronic alcoholic dwelling in his own world; rating himself superior to everything that surrounds him.
Still his best friends, interestingly, are his ex-wife Meera (Kaniha) and her husband Alexy (Shankar Ramakrishnan). But at one juncture, Raghu is forced to think of the catastrophe of alcohol consumption and how it destroys the soul in you. The reason for his change is the death of Sameer, his friend, who falls victim to alcoholism. ‘Spirit’ is not entirely free from a few typical Ranjith hallmarks. References to VKN, Ghazals, Marley, male chauvinism, Arundhati Roy, V S Naipaul, Vikas Swarup; and the list goes on. If it was the life of a little boy Pauly and his father which changed Pranchiyettan’s life in ‘Pranchiyettan and the Saint,’ in ‘Indian Rupee,’ it was Thilakan’s Achutha Menon who taught the protagonist Jayaprakash some valuable lessons on life.
In ‘Spirit,’ it is the turn of plumber Maniyan (Nandu) to prompt Raghu into beginning a campaign against alcoholism. However, the characters fail to form an emotional connect with each other in the movie. And, in many scenes, the flaws in the script remain hidden, thanks to a superb performance by Mohanlal. Other actors, including Kaniha, Nandu, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Madhu, Thilakan and Tiny Tom, have justified their roles. The music department is average while Venu’s frames are in tune with the polished nature of the movie that ends up with a voice-over: “This is Ranjith, signing off from the movie ‘Spirit.”
However, the hopeful vision and the positive spirit the director has shown in making a movie with a strong social relevance need to be appreciated. That spirit itself would qualify as a major reason to call ‘Spirit’ a good movie.