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Attention Please

Farhad Dalal
By-
Farhad Dalal
Rating
4 Star popcorn reviewss

Introduction

Onto the next new release of the weekend and I have finished watching the new Malayalam film Attention Please streaming on Netflix. As a part of the culture of Popcorn Reviewss, we have been giving a voice to different artists who have really worked hard in the making of the final product. These departments include writing, direction, editing, music and cinematography besides acting, which by the way is always given more importance in any other review which you pick up. Even in acting if you notice, our first name is of the smallest of characters in the overall film as we then make our way to the leads. The motive behind this is to acknowledge and give due credit to all the artists who ensure of a high quality product(more often than not).

And just to put it out there again – we at Popcorn Reviewss do not charge a penny for the reviews, neither do we promote after a notice from a production house. We are a free willing review site that does the bare minimum(something which we hope and wish that other reviewers pick on as well). But why am I suddenly going in self praise mode? It is because the subject of the film Attention Please tackles a similar subject. Now that I have finished watching Attention Please, here are my two cents on it.

Story & Screenplay

Attention Please follows a group of “strugglers” of the film industry who one evening get down to partying and narrating stories. This until the evening turns out to be a fatal one! I haven’t divulged out too much of the plot but the story is essentially a satire or a rant on how the writers are treated in the industry(and I will get to it in detail here). The screenplay standing at a little less than 2 hours makes for a brisk watch.

Now the drama is in the conversational zone so if you indulge in them then you will enjoy this a lot. But a part of me also tells me that this is a niche in more ways than one. Another thing is that you need to be attentive to every single dialogue in order to fully understand this satire or a rant veiled as a drama.

The drama opens in regular fashion where a group of five roomies are generally talking about cinema amidst the banter. A closer look at them reveals for a fact that all of them are strugglers and some of them have temporarily given up on their ambitions as well. The dynamics of the conversation reveals that one of the five friends who is a writer is at the receiving end of most of their talks. So much so that he and his written stories for the “big screen” are almost dismissed nonchalantly by his roomies. This until the fateful evening begins.

There is a layer of mystery to the drama which is associated with a worm which tactfully makes its way into the house. There is palpable humour in the conversations which has many meta references of films both from Malayalam Cinema and World Cinema. And luckily for me, I have watched a sizable amount of films by now which helped me relate to the lines better. The proceedings are interesting which buildup momentum through various “unrelated” stories. This until the rant begins.

Through the conversations, we are told about the plight of the writers in the industry on how no importance is given to them. In a scene from the film, the film being discussed(written by the protagonist) was shelved two days before the shoot. In a separate scene, a video game reference of “I have killed millions of them” is smartly integrated into the drama. The unexpected and rather unassuming twist in the tales only triggers a series of rants wherein the protagonist says that in even bad films, the film critics do not critize the writers but only the actirs get criticism. This while the writer’s art is often dismissed as plagiarism.

The tension is nicely builtup in this “dark” drama whose main feature is its unpredictability, a setting which reminded me of RGV’s Darna Manaa Hai. The rant almost continues touching upon the caste issues as well which does add an interesting dimension to the overall discussion. The final act is open to interpretation but here is when I will let out a SPOILER! This was all a part of the story of the protagonist. No one had died and all of this was more of a rant in his story. If you notice, the film ends with the same dialogue that it starts with which reaffirms my assumption. Overall, the writing is terrific and crisp and one of the much needed rants in today’s “filmy” world!

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues do play a very important part given that the screenplay is designed to be conversational in nature. And they make for a brilliant impact which does make you ponder on the situation. The BGM is spectacular and it also contributes to some of the lighter moments(like a horror ringtone playing in between a horror story). The cinematography adds a mysterious layer to the drama. The editing is crisp and very sharp. Director Jithin Issac Thomas who had directed one of my favourite shorts(the last one) in the anthology Freedom Fight, seems to have pulled this drama from one of his personal lives. There is a lot of anger driven in the drama and much of it maybe personal(and rightly so). His direction is brilliant and contributes to many memorable moments in the film. The execution is pitch perfect.

Performances

The performances are top notch here. If you look closely, the names given to the actors are eerily similar to the ones in the crew. Athira Kallingal as Leena does a fabulous job in a very well restrained role. Sreejith Babu as Jithin is natural to the core and I thoroughly enjoyed his act. Jicky Paul as Himal has his moments to shine. Jobin Paul as Yadhura is terrific in a nicely constructed role. Anand Manmadhan has a great screen presence and does a fabulous job. But it is Vishnu Govindhan as Hari(a clever allegory on Harijan caste too referenced in the film as well) is absolutely brilliant. His stoic expressions will send a shiver down your spine before his eccentricities take over in a whole new dimension to his character. His performance demanded a lot of physicality and boy does he hit it out of the park!

Conclusion

Attention Please is a deliciously dark satire on the plight of the writers in the industry. Are you listening? Please give this film your unwavering Attention! Available on Netflix and Highly Recommended!

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