Despite the intimacy they share with the land, barring a very few films, the stories from the Middle East often fail to strike a chord with the Malayali audience on screen, on the contrary to its versions in print, maybe because of the run-of-the-mill plots and mundane characters. Here comes Kanal,(ember) a revenge drama told in a rather new format. Though it carries shades of some classic thrillers, the slow paced film is narrated in a different backdrop, the Gulf recession which had hit the remittance economy of Kerala a few years ago. It also sheds light on the plight of some television channels which went off air due to financial mismanagement, recently. It also touches a more crucial issue in the media, the paid news.
A good thing about the characters is that they are not the clichéd ‘all good’ single dimensional NRKs. They portray a picture much closer to reality where, in split of a moment, persons grab any opportunity for their betterment, just like the law of the jungle. The film tells how strangely four men, an animator John David (Mohan Lal ), business tycoons Kuruvilla (Athul Kulkarni) and Raghu (Prathap Pothen) and a journalist-turned-Channel honcho Anantharaman (Anoop Menon )who had a stint in UAE during the recession, get linked to a crime.
John has plans to take on an intelligent villain while Anantharaman is forced to join him in a train journey to Karwar in Karnataka. As John, Lal is at home as some of the traits of the actor are sprinkled all over the character. Once again he proves his mettle in a villainous material. A few top angle shots of the picturesque locales by Vinod Illampilly add to the visual beauty. In the script, director M Padmakumar gets a good support from S Suresh Babu and the animated scenes gel with the hero’s profession.
However, it would have been a better outing if the movie was slimmer by chiseling out a few scenes. Anantharaman’s flash back eats much of the time and the scenes of the fortune-seeking bar hotel owner and his aide, especially in the tail end, were avoidable.
A little more research on the recession stories aired by Malayalam channels from UAE would have made them politically correct. A consultation with a banker would have added credibility to those scenes where funds are transferred from the bank accounts. At times, the BGM gets jarred and we are taken back to the style of the early eighties. Forget the spoilers for a while and watch it for its unusual content and for Mohanlal.