This is that kind of a movie - it is forgettable, it is done to death… it is running out of boring descriptions for itself.

Flix Mollywood Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 17:16
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Tatatarata, tatatarata – Gopi Sundar’s original music (the keyword here is 'original', which was specifically mentioned before the composer’s name, just in case) fills Mammootty’s new movie Shylock, from frame to frame, sentence to sentence. So much so that minutes after the film, you might still hear it in your head, even if there’s a very good chance that you are already forgetting the movie’s thread. 

Because it is that kind of a movie - it is forgettable, it is done to death… it is running out of boring descriptions for itself.

Before the customary short description of the movie, let’s make sure we don’t confuse it with the scores of superstar movies that come and go every few weeks. A slow-moving, fabulous car out of which two sidekicks first emerge (Baiju and Hareesh Kanaran about to enjoy a free slow-motion shot with the hero), and then open the backdoor for the big man. The big man, who prefers to let his spotless white shoes enter the scene first (and you think fondly of those Surf Excel ads, which despite the annoying whiteness, would end in seconds). The big man then lets the camera scan the rest of him, including his stylish clothes (all black, very suave) and long hair, his sunglasses, his laugh, by which point the original musician takes a break to let the big man talk. Pop quiz: which movie are we talking about? You are all right, but it is also Shylock.

Director Ajai Vasudev after getting Mammootty to play mass heroes in two previous films – RajadhiRaja and Masterpiece – waited for 2020 to strike his hat-trick with Shylock. He knows the game so well, it is like he is not even trying any more. His writers Aneesh Hameed and Bibin Mohan have created the background of movie sets for the mass hero’s entrance. Kalabhavan Shajohn, temporarily shedding his director robes, has once again come to play the villain with childish habits such as snatching other people’s sunglasses and cracking silly lines like, ‘I will show him’. He plays the rich producer who has borrowed money from Boss aka Shylock played by Mammootty, and doesn't plan to return it, no matter what. Boss (seems like there was an ‘original’ name-giver on the sets too) loves to act, and so he cracks movie dialogues every time he faces an enemy. Siddique, who plays a bigger villain than Shajohn, calls it ‘cinematic bullshit’. That coinage – there has to be a Renji Panicker on the sets, the man who gave so many "impressive" English words to Malayalam cinema.

Siddique is your typical police villain, the commissioner without a conscience. For some reason, he is completely clean-shaven. Or maybe like boot-cut jeans, clean-shaven villains are also back in style. Both the villains have villainous rich, spoilt sons too. What a party.

The film’s team is very committed to serving the "mass" cause. They don’t let Mammootty rest after all his stepping out of cars and slow-mos and cinematic dialogues and big laughs. He also has to single-handedly beat up every goon on the street in every few scenes, without falling, without taking a hit, without even breaking his walk. The sidekicks only watch. The only other man who offers any kind of stunting help is Raj Kiran, the Tamil actor who appears on the screen midway through the movie. For, of course, Boss has a flashback that will explain why he switches to Tamil while he cracks his mass lines. He wouldn’t simply be angry at people for not returning his money. Dumb villains don’t even guess that for so long.

Many characters pop up in the flashback, though they don’t specifically have a purpose other than being a happy family: Meena playing the traditional and nice wife to Raj Kiran, actors Arjun Nadhakumar, Bibin George, Arthana and a whole gang singing, dancing, making bad jokes and laughing at it. Mammootty in the flashback has little curls on his forehead and you can understand why he wants to hide it with long wigs in the future. He is then called Vaal, as in "tail". Vaal is a paavam ‘Tamil payyan’ wanting to be an actor in Malayalam movies, though of course, even back then he began the habit of knocking down villains like swatting flies on the way.

The one conspicuously missing "mass" element is a romantic interest for the hero, in the past or the present. He simply says he is still single with that laugh of his and enjoys the company of the dancing women in the dance bar that he is about to destroy. Oh they didn’t forget the item dance, even though they left out a heroine.

The good part is, the writers believe in brevity. They have kept the script to 130 minutes. With a disclaimer that this is a "mass" movie, purely intended for fans who love stereotypical punch dialogues and action scenes, Shylock perhaps can belong to that category of harmless fun (though both harmless and fun are hugely relative words here).

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.