The trailer of Siddique’s flashy action drama Big Brother had the tagline ‘Feel the Lalhood’. The words don’t particularly make sense, but this is a movie where Mohanlal is constantly sending people to space, and the heroine sings a romantic duet with him a few minutes after she excitedly refers to him as her “Big bro”. It’s the director’s friendly warning that one shouldn’t use one’s brain too much while watching the film. It’s all about the feelz.
Big Brother begins with a young man, Manu (Sarjano Khan), desperately trying to bring his elder brother Sachidanandan (Mohanlal) out of prison. He’s been convicted of two murders and unless you’ve never watched an Indian superstar movie in your life, you’d know that the build-up is for the hero. The flashback that tells us why Sachidanandan went to jail is one of the few sequences that work in the film. Though it happens over the course of a song, Siddique manages to tell the story of a teenager forced by circumstances to take the law into his hands.
It’s puzzling that Sachidanandan’s caring family doesn’t even know what he looks like as a grown man, let alone meet him in all the years he was in jail. Ok, sorry, that was a logical question. Back to the feelz. Once he’s released, Sachidanandan doesn’t know what to do with his freedom.
Mohanlal is a delight to watch as the awkward Sachidanandan who’s conditioned to ask for permission for every little thing. Anoop Menon and Honey Rose play his brother and sister-in-law while Gaadha plays his other brother Manu’s girlfriend. The mild comedy is fun but it all goes downhill after Manu and his girlfriend are brutally attacked. In fact, the second the jeep with generic rowdies appeared, I knew the film wasn’t going to recover.
Arbaaz Khan plays Vedantham IPS, and one must say he’s much better than former Bollywood stars who are now doing villain roles in the south. The actor’s dubbing is off-sync in places but he at least seems to know what’s happening in each scene. The plot is long and convoluted, involving the drug mafia and multiple players, including Siddique (the actor, not the director) playing the role of Shetty and Mirnaa Menon appearing as his daughter Arya Shetty. The director tries to build a complex storyline but the big revelation, which is made at the end, is no revelation at all because it’s been staring at the audience for at least half the film.
The writing is sloppy; when Sachidanandan and his hardened criminal friends take a woman hostage, she’s completely clueless that she’s been kidnapped. To keep her happy, they go on treks, have a campfire, sing songs with a guitar and behave like college kids on a tour. The camera cuts to her saying “YAY!’" and giving Hi-5s every time Sachidanandan delivers a kidney rupturing punch. Cringe.
While the first half has some moments, the second is a complete train wreck, with the overly loud background score trying to whip up the feelz as one badly done fight after fight unfolds on screen with little ingenuity. I became so numb to what was happening that my mind was occupied with questions like – which hair gel does Sachidanandan use, because even after crashing through rocks and escaping bombs, not a strand is out of place.
The runtime of the film is 2 hours and 45 minutes, and yet the director would rather have his characters explain the plot in boring speeches than show what happened. The only time I woke up was when John Vijay (oh he’s yet another villain) says, “Thalluda thakkali” to Anoop Menon because it was unexpectedly funny.
I’m sure diehard Mohanlal fans will feel the Lalhood no matter what, but for the rest of the audience, Big Brother is a big assault on the senses.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.