Spirit (I) (2012)
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The performances - and that alone - would be the USP of Spirit, all of them so brilliant. Nandu and Kalpana stands out, complemented well by Shankar Ramakrishnan, Lena, Madhu, Tiny Tom, Siddharth. Not to mention an extended cameo from Thilakan. Lalettan as usual excels, he does the role of an alcoholic with élan. The screenplay is weak in parts - the arrangement and timing is not Ranjith's forte - and at times too dramatic with artful dialogs which would be appreciated by high profile critics. The music sounded like lifts from Indian Rupee :P
Ranjith tries to pull in all social issues, alcoholism in the front row. The medium though used to reach out as shown in the movie never launched well, in fact the chat shows in the movie were dumb. One scene which needs special mention is where the protagonist feels free in the rain breaking loose, thematically showing how he got freed from the menace that is alcohol. The transformation, the preaching, the good ending!! Not unheard or unseen. Just wish had it been made a much better movie, for it had all the stuff to enlighten lives, sadly but staggers at regular intervals :(. To sum it up, Spirit is artistic with a social message, a good one time watch. 6.5/10
Then there is the poor plumber who is also an alcoholic and as far removed from the Raghunandan character that you can get but the similarities in both of them are striking.
Also contrasted are the two women, played by Kanika and Kalpana. One is educated and aware, so she walks away from a marriage she is unhappy in. The other is illiterate and unaware and stays in a marriage where her life is threatened almost every day.
The movie is a coming together of such personas and their interactions keep the story moving forward.
This may not rank very high on Renjith's list of achievement, but kudos to him for making it nonetheless.
My rating – 3/5 for content and sheer acting displays.
The film rests on the broad shoulders of acting genius Mohanlal & he has done an outstanding job as the drunkard Raghhunandan (We already know that nobody can beat him in the Drunken act in the whole wide world). But its not just a one man show there all the supporting cast were impressive and all of them got claps in one or more scenes. Shankar Ramakrishnan has made an impressive debut , thanks Ranjith for finding the actor in the talented writer/director, he has done full Justice to the rule which i believe was to be done by Prakashraj at the beginning.
He is also a compulsive alcoholic who has a shattered family life, his wife having divorced him earlier due to his drinking. However, he shares a healthy relationship with her and her current husband. But his constant alcoholism and air of superiority makes him obnoxious and irritating.
The movie is about him realizing how addicted he has become to alcohol and how he decides to move away from it.
The movie's not perfect - The show 'Show the Spirit' in its shown format is just surreal; there is no real incentive for guests to come and participate in it simply to be ripped apart. Since the show is said to be a huge hit, any potential guest should be aware of what they're in for.
Another issue is that there is no evidence to the claim that Raghunandan is a genius. It is shown that everyone accepts this premise, but there is nothing exceptional in what he says/ does that would allow us to buy in to the claim.
Alcoholism is portrayed very well, down to the the righteous indignation and lack of awareness of the extent of addiction. But the climactic experiment (I'm not saying what it is) is simply unrealistic. But overall, still a good movie. Very well made and with excellent, realistic performances all around.
Spirit is a movie that has been written and directed quite untraditionally without the cliché like 'lovers, villain and police' depicting social aspects of alcoholism in all strata of community. Apart from essential drama, there is no melodrama or ride on emotional roller-coaster. If drama is taken out, one can only produce a documentary!
All the various people that Raghunandan (Mohan Lal) deals with are in one way or other associated with alcohol or its effects. Role, if any, of hapless government is portrayed in the "Show the Spirit" interview. The character Raghunandan has insight to do logical reasoning and can arrive at rational decisions which are evident through the movie. His discipline within the alcoholism, including studying about a person he is to interview at the TV show, is something one with small brains can't muster. The way he conducts himself before his ex- wife in various phases of the movie show how good his hindsight and foresight are. All these reflect his high intellect though his emotional intelligence seems to trail behind. Having said that, he is basically emerges as a man who loves to love and loves to be liked.
The movie also shows how society reacts to and can deal with alcoholism in a 'lesser' man like plumber Mani (Nandu) who has nothing to hide and also how a well respected man like Capt. Nambiar (Madhu) may carry himself out in his private life.
The apparent incomplete events and characters, which may seem unfinished to people who like clichés, that are dotted along take away any monotony of scenes and contribute to the basic theme.
The songs to me are aptly placed with poetry that impacts deep, the music and voices doing justice to the intended portrayal of moods. They do not use the worn-out words like 'chella kili', 'chella kaattu' and the like. My only gripe is the way Meera (Kaniha) plays the guitar which doesn't quite reflect the score there.
The movie doesn't have any cliché that a layman like me has observed. It just portrays alcoholism and its effects in the backdrop of relationships.
There is not a single scene that doesn't fit.
If I have to compare, I can only compare it with other good movies - like Thanmaathra and Kireedam which too portray some harsh realities of life as it is. It is unfair, I think, to compare with other good movies of Renjith which are set on entirely different platforms.
Set in high society, Mohanlal plays a successful TV show conductor who is chronically alcoholic.He has been extremely convincing in his performance.
It was a very ambitious project from Ranjith. Alcoholism is a very wide spread problem in Kerala. There is a lot of potential in the subject.If he can get to some of the root causes and expose the menace in a convincing manner, he can exert influence on the society.But the movie has not lived up to such standards in content but the choice of effort was right.
The execution is masterful for most part. However, the portion where the TV show peeps into the home of a plumber stood out ugly in the script.The plumber going for de- alcoholising does not excuse this.To make matters even worse,the hidden cam even shows the closet.From then on, the movie failed. After showing the changed plumber, mohanlal as the show host advices his TV audience and us the cinema audience on de-alcoholism.Very un-subtle.I would be truly surprised if the movie has convinced alcoholics to de-drink - very unlikely.Nobody gets fooled here - somebody deep within you has to be fooled emotionally for you to stop drinking. Lal stopped drinking when his friend dies in his hands. The viewer faces nothing at all.
The songs of the movie on the other hand are perfect. Excellent poetry . Excellent music. Excellent rendition. Touches you deeply and lingers on.
Cinematography is excellent too.The movie is a great watch.The high points are music , cinematography, mohanlal, short but excellent performance by Tilakan and the failure point is that I don't see the movie exerting influence on alcoholics.
Modern day life of an alcoholic takes a U-turn when he realizes the gravity of his condition. He sets out to do the impossible & the story continues. With very good performances by the lead actors, Spirit is one of the few best Malayalam cinemas of 2012.
BOTTOM LINE: Highly Recommended! Due to the essence of reality inculcated into the plot. You will feel delighted & enlightened after watching this flick.
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES