Movie Review: Spirit

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The movie takes the audience on a daring plunge into an issue that has been plaguing the Indian society for years, shedding light on it from a chronic alcoholic’s point of view. An issue that everyone knew was there but never really took the initiative to address, possibly due to various selfish reasons. Applaud it for the immense amount of effort and talent portrayed, but looking at the bigger picture, the audience is likely to leave the cinema with looming questions.

The movie started off with a steady pace and narration, introducing the characters one by one, and slowly setting the scene for the audience. At this point, one might have the tendency to feel like they are watching a story midway, as they are not told of the circumstances that led an exceptionally intellectual character like Raghunandhan to fall victim to alcohol addiction – something that he should, with his intellectual capabilities, have been able to avoid. But then again, if compared with real life scenarios, very often it is the well educated, well informed people who fall prey to alcohol. The reasons behind it is not explored, but the effects it has on themselves, their families, and their careers have been very well portrayed. One question that pops up at this point in the movie is how he, a snob to the society and everyone else, is able to maintain a close friendly relationship with his ex-wife and her new husband. Normally a person of his arrogance and stance, would not take a matter like divorce and remarriage of his ex wife so light heartedly. And anyway, if he was so easy going, then why, in the first place, did they divorce?

Somewhere in the middle, the movie begins to get a little draggy. The narrator makes a point in the beginning that Raghu is a rather arrogant personality, and it seems the first half of the movie was solely trying to emphasize it. However, as all stories go, there is a twist in the plot that makes Raghu realize his wasted life and motivates him to change his ways. The scenes are very subtly taken giving more importance to the portrayal of feelings through the acting and surroundings rather than blatantly dropping it on us using expressive speech dialogues that we usually hear in commercial films. The role of Raghu’s deaf and mute son fits in perfectly and adds a lot of value to this aspect of the story.

The second half is where the story starts picking up pace and gets really interesting. Comparing the second half to the first, there is a sort of disconnection where one might feel that the whole first half was not exactly necessary. To some, it might feel like there was a rush to finish up the movie. It does feel a little rough around the edges, when Raghu, a chronic alcoholic was miraculously able to control his desire for drinking, overnight, without any help from anyone. It almost lost the touch of reality for a moment there, but director Ranjith managed to pull it back together with a scene towards the end where Raghu was offered a glass of alcohol and he accepts it. The ending however, was unexpected, yet emotionally satisfying.

Overall it was a touch and go on the issue of alcoholism in Kerala, but from the looks of it, we can expect more movies along this storyline. It is a new storyline, something that has a social message in it and with the multitude of talented directors and storywriters in the Malayalam movie industry, it is only too obvious that this will fall under their scrutiny and motivate them to make even better ones in future.

Verdict: A must watch for the out-of-the-box storyline and cinematography, and of course the brilliant performance by Mohanlal and the other actors. More importantly, an eye-opener for our dear alcoholic friends out there. Be warned though – this may not necessarily change their perception, for living in denial is part of their problem.

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