Starting with Ladies and Gentlemen (2013), director Siddique has shown an alarming tendency to fall back on a narrative pattern that’s stale and archaic. It is pitiable to watch a person who revolutionised situational comedy in Malayalam cinema cram forced comic lines in the middle of nowhere. In fact, everything about Big Brother comes across as laboured—the characters of the hero, his family, the villain, the heroine, fights and of course the story.
It begins with a man’s quest to secure the release from prison of his elder brother, who is serving a double life-term for homicide.
Our leading man Sachithanathan’s (Mohanlal looks staid and impassive) backstory is fit for a mega serial—that of a young man who accidentally murders his stepmother’s first husband and while in jail kills the warden too. The flashback scenes have the production values of a dubbed megaserial and actors seem like they have been told to ham it up. There is a portion at a juvenile home that’s too absurd to describe.
The making and writing are so tiresome that you stare on blankly at moments that may have been intended to elicit an emotional response. How can you mess up a superstar introduction scene, more so when you have cast an actor who exudes charisma with his mere presence? His reunion with his family after 24 years is framed in the backdrop of an awfully choreographed, lavish and tacky song and dance. And the attempts to deal with Sachithanathan’s inability to cope with life after jail are superficial. He sleeps on the kitchen floor as he is not used to luxury. He finds it difficult to socialise, especially with women. He is used to saluting cops, taking orders. He is used to standing in a queue to get food. These scenes are so frivolously handled that they never rise beyond unintentional humour. It doesn’t help that Mohanlal’s face looks unfathomable, like he is being dragged into the frame against his will.
If we remain unmoved by the antics of the hero, the sub-characters (terribly underwritten) just seem to be in awe of him (with wannabe doppelgänger Anoop Menon playing the brother). There are his three cronies from the juvenile home (who seem to have been instructed to prostrate before the hero), a younger brother whose characterisation is confused, a sister-in-law (Honey Rose) who is also in awe of Sachithanathan, and the daughter of a rich Shetty from Mangalore who instantly falls for the hero’s charms (and the film makes a silly song and dance around it).
The narrative never holds our attention at any point, despite throwing in one pointless twist after another.
The only ones not astounded by the hero are the one-dimensional villains, but then again they are characters one is so used to seeing in a Siddique film—one cop is played by Arbaaz Khan and not a single muscle in his face moves throughout the running time. And to those who thought Vivek Oberoi’s performance in Lucifer was raised a notch because actor Vineeth dubbed for him, they should try watching Vineeth failing miserably to imbue any emotion into Khan’s performance. Meanwhile I am still trying to figure out what the other villain, played by Chetan Hansraj, was doing in the film.
When you rope in Arbaaz Khan to play a Malayalee cop and actor Siddique to play a Mangalore Shetty with awfully accented Malayalam, you know the director needs an extended break.