Jeethu Joseph’s Memories is one of my favorite movies in recent years. Its a regular whodunit movie but it keeps you to the edge of the seat throughout. What I really liked about the movie is the subtle and restrained manner in which Jeethu has characterized Sam Alex. When Prithviraj does a great discovery or make a turning point during his investigation, Jeethu doesnt really spend any time to glorify his lead hero and moves to the next sequence very quickly. That is the kind of technique that makes you want to watch movies again.
Haneef Adeni’s directorial debut – The Great Father reminded me of Memories in how it is a similarly intriguing whodunit and how the lead hero, David Ninan, is relentlessly behind the villain to avenge for his daughter. But what serves as a serious dampener to the flow is the slow motion scenes. The few including the ones shown in the teasers where Mammootty walks down with a cigarette or comes from the back seat to front seat doesn’t really help the narrative but are just means to play to the gallery.
It does not suit the serious mood of the movie where a father is broken, enraged and out on a revenge. The only two places where a slow motion worked is when Mammootty takes out the gun in front of the school and when he skids his vehicle and tricks the police towards the end. First suggests us how he would handle his growing enemy-base and second helps the narrative.
Now keep aside that negative , Haneef Adeni’s writing has shades of brilliance at places. One that was really impressive is the sequence how Mammootty and Sneha are left shocked but react in two different ways to their daughter’s tragedy. The counselling scenes with the doctor are precisely written and executed as well. How Mammootty starts from the basics when trying to track the villain and then surpasses Arya on the investigation is well thought and written too. The aerial shots when few workers find about a dead body shows someone who is inspired from foreign thrillers like Memories of Murder and Silence. Movie’s climax is a letdown as most of your questions are not answered but you are not entirely disappointed as Haneef ends the movie by swiftly swapping the shots between a couple of fine conversations between the lead characters.
Mammootty is without doubt the soul of The Great Father. He is at the top of his game in the scenes right after the tragedy strikes them. For an actor with so many years of vast experience, it amuses you when he brings out the vulnerability of a father who is shocked and confused about what to do next. He is superb in the scenes in the lift or in the car later when he repeatedly ponders over his helplessness. In the second half, he does not leave from his character either as in his each breath, his only goal is to take revenge.
Arya’s casting is a masterstroke. The actor bring the comic relief to the serious subject and his dubbing is very good. All his confrontation scenes with Mammootty benefit the movie a great deal. Anikha is terrific too. Sushin Shyam’s background score is perhaps the second best thing in the entire movie right behind Mammootty. His tunes suit both the emotional and thrilling scenes perfectly though the poor guy is forced to put some English song bits for the slow motion scenes.
The problem with most Mammootty movies in the recent years is that it never offered you anything to really root for his characters or connect with them. Great Father despite its flaws succeed in this aspect. Haneef Adeni lets his hero fall, get defeated and then makes him rise. That for a change works. David Ninan is a great father and a fine hero. Had Haneef not made him walk so much in slow motion in the movie, he would have only walked more into our hearts.