It is still a Tuesday and I still have a couple of leftovers from the weekend. With that, I finished watching the new Malayalam film Corona Papers which is the official adaptation of the original Tamil film 8 Thottakkal. When it comes to Malayalam cinema, it is an absolute rarity that you will see adaptations or remakes which are served to the viewers. The adaptations or remakes have been over-utilized by the Hindi film industry primarily(with other notable instances being of Telugu and Tamil film industries) but Malayalam films(whether they succeed financially or not) are known for their original content. Before Corona Papers, the only adaptation that I have been privy to in Malayalam films is the Prithviraj Sukumaran starrer Bhramam which was an adaptation of Andhadhun.
So when I did get to know about Corona Papers being an adaptation of 8 Thottakkal, I was kind of surprised. And it is always the case that I do go and watch the original film before venturing into the remake. With all honesty, despite a good premise I found 8 Thottakkal to be middling with its writing. What did start off with a good premise did taper off into a convoluted meandering thriller which was just about watchable. So I was quite worried about Corona Papers and hoped that it would rectify some of the shortcomings. With Priyadarshan at the helm of it, I was kind of confident on the final product which would be dished out eventually. Now that I have finished watching Corona Papers, here are my two cents on the same.
Story & Screenplay
An official adaptation of the Tamil film 8 Thottakkal, Corona Papers follows the story of a police officer who loses his gun only to find out that his stolen gun is used for crimes across the city. Will he be able to get his gun back? The premise here is pretty good and it did have the potential to be a thrilling ride. But it is yet again that meandering screenplay with little to no urgency with respect to character motives that eventually sinks this ship too. Another talking point being the length of the film which was a shade above 150 minutes thus contributing to the meandering trajectories of the drama(in not a good way). Also, the times of ‘Corona’ as mentioned in the title wasn’t distinctive in its narration either.
The premise here is different from that of the original where the opening act is staged theough the eyes of the antagonist. So you are introduced to the character of Shankararaman who is witness to a fake encounter committed following which he is falsely accused for the crime. While this premise does help you connect a little with the motives of the antagonist, there is not much time spent in knowing the background of the protagonist and thus this investment doesn’t quite add up. Even the family angle of the antagonist which did contribute to the sympathies of the character is entirely missing here and thus the drama doesn’t quite rise to its potential, although the additions are logical.
The proceedings are just about watchable but in all honesty, I was distracted right throughout the film. The plot points are predictable and I did miss the raw and unabashed energy of the original particularly in the first hour. The entire drama here seemed to be staged and that is what made me disconnect to the events unfolding. For those who may have already watched the original would know exactly where the drama is headed but on the positive side, the face-off between the antagonist and ASP Gracy does form some of the best moments of the drama wherein the tensions are escalated. But at the same time, the drama here falters at exactly the same moments as that in the original.
The drama keeps getting convoluted and meandering as opposed to thrilling. The events threaten to take off but they never quite do, and that has a lot to do with the stakes not been raised enough. The events leading up to the final act are quite generic but I still did feel that the original was slightly more layered and textured. The final act in itself is quite silly here where the tweaks from the original just did not add up especially when one of the characters suddenly returns from the dead. Tch tch…Overall, the screenplay here has been slightly tweaked but it doesn’t necessary work as the original screenplay was middling too.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are decent but nothing much to shout about. The BGM here is pulsating and does well in trying to enhance the drama at different junctures. The cinematography is wonderful and it captures some of the most stunning frames in a beautiful manner(particularly the ones related to nature that at times dictates the mood of the drama). The editing is decent but could have been sharper. Director Priyadarshan does a decent job but this is nowhere close to his absolute best. The direction at times does lack the bite which flattens the overall impact of the drama.
The performances are quite good here. Vineeth Sreenivasan as Musthafa is sincere in an extended cameo. Hannah Reji Koshy as Rani is pretty good. Gayathrie as Veena is wasted even if you compare it to the original character played by Aparna Balamurali. Shine Tom Chacko as Paappi is in his elements but his limited screen time doesn’t allow his character to bloom. Sandhya Shetty as ASP Gracy is excellent and she does a wonderful job in a character that does have grey shades too. Siddique as Shamkararaman is brilliant and he does keep a tab on the different emotions of his character wonderfully well. Shane Nigam as SI Rahul is sincere and does a swell job.
Corona Papers is a meandering adaptation of the original Tamil film 8 Thottakkal which was middling with its writing too. Available on Hotstar.