It looks like director Siddique has finally scraped the bottom of the barrel to make a movie that makes his abominable Ladies And Gentleman (2013) seem like a work of art. If in the future, he goes further down and discovers scarier depths of bad film making, it should duly be recognised as an accomplishment.
Big Brother, in simple terms, is a nightmare that unfolds in 165 minutes, that drains an unsuspecting movie-goer of energy and the will to live. It is a collage of badly-made spoofs of movies such as Highway, seemingly put together by someone who doesn’t have the slightest understanding of how human beings behave in life. The cinematography, music, and production design are shabbily executed, as though no one cares about the audience.
The film starts off as a family drama. Sachithanandan (Mohanlal), the eldest son of a Mangalore-based family has returned home after spending 24 years in prison. Since, for no reason cited, none of his family members had met him in prison over the two decades and hadn’t even sent him a postcard or a family photograph, they come forward one by one and introduce themselves to him. “I am your younger brother. The one whom you carried on your shoulders and fed with your own hands…”
What ensues is a Shawshank Redemption kind of situation. Sachi has trouble adjusting to the new surroundings. Siddique strips the situation of the last drop of empathy and logic and creates misplaced jokes out of the man’s social anxiety.
Immediately after reaching home, he is forced to participate in a group dance staged as part of a wedding celebration. Given the cheap music and mediocre dance choreography, it should surprise no one when Sachi tries to run away from the scene.
No one in the household, neither the beloved father nor the younger brother who is a doctor, behaves like a sensible individual, offering Sachithanandan (and the audience) a humane treatment. Everything is incomprehensibly haywire in this movie.
One of the central themes is the human rights violation inside the country’s law and order system. Sachithanandan opens up to his family one day about how he and many of his fellow prisoners were used by the police in high-risk commando operations, as a sort of suicide squad. This could have been a significant subject to pay attention to, hadn’t Siddique been so socially blind.
The director hasn’t, in many decades, dealt with stories of non-elites, the people from vulnerable social classes whose chances of falling prey to the corrupt system is higher than that of everyone else. In Big Brother, he erases the poor and the powerless from their story and plants an upper-class Hindu family in the picture.
Sachi’s family lives in a palatial house spread over a large compound, with several cars and a squad of domestic help. His younger brother is married to the daughter of the city’s police commissioner. Why and how this family was denied the right to meet Sachi at least once during his prison sentence, or how the scion of this rich and powerful family fell victim to police brutality is incomprehensible.
The antagonists in the film are the members of a drug cartel who, again without a logical explanation, invest a lot of energy in stalking Sachi and making his life hell. This part, set up like a crime-thriller, is a silly snooze fest, devoid of a single intelligent moment or a dialogue that makes the characters seem a little interesting.
Arbaaz Khan plays Vedantam, a Malayali IPS officer in Karnataka cadet who has a penchant for encounter killings. There couldn’t have been a better movie for Khan to make his Malayalam debut, for his thoroughly non-existent acting skills are in perfect sync with the movie’s utterly poor and unimaginative characterisation.
This movie bears witness to the coming of age of a pet project Siddique has been working on over his films post-2000—the faux romantic plot-tracks where women who are barely 22 pursue men well past their fifties, played by Mollywood’s favorite superstars.
In Ladies And Gentlemen, Mamta Mohandas is a newly graduated engineering student who has to bring an alcoholic widower (Mohanlal) back to normal life by pulling him into marriage. In Chronic Bachelor, Rambha plays a college-goer who goes all out to seduce a middle-aged businessman leading a semi-hermit lifestyle (Mammootty) who takes absolutely no interest in the sight of the young woman sending sly sexual invitations from the balcony next door.
In Big Brother, Mohanlal’s Sachithanandan who shows no interest in women or material life, has to ward off flirtatious advances from a young girl (Mirna Menon). She is the daughter of a Mangalore-based don (actor Siddique) whose characterisation is a bunch of silk night robes and a white wig.
At one point in the story, Sachi and his gang kidnap her. But it would be a long time before she realises that she’s been kidnapped and not taken on an off-beat pleasure trip. She laughs and shares jokes with Sachi’s gang members, hugs trees and embraces life on the road, parodying Alia Bhatt in Highway. Nothing about this plot-track—the actors’ performances or Deepak Dev’s romantic track—is staged with the slightest degree of grace.
In Big Brother, Mohanlal, the veteran actor of many national and state awards and owner of a blog named The Complete Actor, could make a wooden doll look like a better performer. He’s ineffective as both, a star and an actor, and most of all, he looks disinterested in the proceedings around him.
The sight of a supporting cast comprising of Vishnu Unnikrishnan, Tiny Tom, Irshad, and Anoop Menon trying to cheer up scenes in the presence of a passive Mohanlal are reminiscent of the famous comic scenes from Chandamama (1999). If nothing else, Big Brother pares down and exposes the sad reality of Malayalam cinema’s superstar myth.
The Big Brother review is a Silverscreen.in original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.