Roshni Dinaker's My Story is among the many films we've seen about the life of a woman actor. And, like all of those films, the real picture behind the glitz is not pretty. With an actor like Parvathy playing the role of the superstar, I was looking forward to a film that would shake me up, make me believe in the character absolutely. Live her story.
Unfortunately, My Story is so stage-y that it never quite manages to pull us inside. This comes as a surprise, considering the immense talent on board and the magic that Parvathy and Prithviraj managed to create in Ennu Ninte Moideen. But what can the talented cast possibly do when the film is determined to tick every plot cliche along the way? All the beauty of Europe, where most of the film is shot, cannot compensate for it.
One of the first scenes in the film is that of Jay (Prithviraj) staring at Tara's (Parvathy) incandescent face on a hoarding selling a fairness cream. That made me smile - in real life, Parvathy does not believe in endorsing any product, let alone a fairness cream. Jay, the fanboy, stares up at the hoarding, struggling to believe that his first film is opposite her. Prithviraj is convincing as a naive Jay and the actors work up a decent chemistry together. That first episode between them, when she plays a trick on him to manipulate the people around her, shows promise.
We see Tara's rebellious streak, we catch a glimpse of her broken wings. But the film stops disappointingly short of delving into her character more. Instead, what we get is a rinse-repeat routine that doesn't tell us any more about Tara than what we already know within the first half hour. We keep waiting for the story that Tara keeps threatening to tell. But it never goes beyond a couple of predictable lines thrown in between sequences on 'What Indians do in Europe' - which is drink too much wine and break into song and dance (pleasant enough music Shaan Rahman and Raja Narayan Deb, but still).
Just as the actors manage to build up a certain degree of intensity, something juvenile or cliched happens which ruins it. Take, for instance, the scene when a doped Tara smashes a TV and breaks a bottle on a man's head. Parvathy is terrific here, looking completely deranged and on the verge of a breakdown. But this is immediately followed by a comic fight, which dissipates whatever tension was built into the scene.
It does not help that Ganesh Venkatraman, who plays the villain, looks like he's modelling for an expensively shot Raymond's advertisement. He walks around with a sneer that seems to have frozen on his face due to the cold. The other characters in the film, too, suffer from poor writing. They come and go, without creating much of an impression. For instance, why was Mathura in the film? Just to be snubbed by Hima (Parvathy again)? And it's a travesty to reduce Manoj K Jayan's role to shots of his tiny ponytail.
Considering the film has a non-linear narrative and goes back to about 20 years in time, the appearances of the cast change very little. It is true that several actors do look much younger than their actual age in real life but perhaps some more effort in creating a slightly aged look would have made the film work better. If the explanation is that they've got Botox, why didn't they colour their greys too? The world around them looks also exactly the same, save for a few touches. Parvathy has always been a chameleon and she shifts from Tara to the tattooed Hima effortlessly - but, once again, the character itself is let down by the writing. We only see her shouting woo-hoo in a car or dancing in a club.
Perhaps the true abilities of an actor can be judged only in a bad film. Though Tara and Jay are given the most unrealistic lines possible, Parvathy and Prithviraj manage to mouth them with conviction. It's ultimately their performances that make us sit through this fairytale gone wrong.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.