Producer: Kamal, Ubaid
Cast: Prithviraj, Mamtha, Chandni, Sreenivasan
Music: M. Jayachandran
Editing: K. Rajagopalan
There is hardly anybody in the world today who hasn’t faced a crisis period in life. It is believed that suffered will be rewarded once. But, it wasn’t the case with J.C. Daniel, the father of Malayalam cinema.
Movie itself is in a search for the story behind and after the first movie of Kerala, “Vigathakumaran”. Chelangatt Gopalakrishnan (Sreenivasan) is the narrator of the movie. He happened to be writing a book on the life of Malayalam cinema’s first heroine. He incidentally met with J.C. Daniel and the flashback scenes are introduced. At a time when most malayalies haven’t even heard the word “Cinema”, one man put himself in to the mission of making it a reality. He approached various people who were touted as the pioneers of the respective fields. A feel of dejection doesn’t stopped him from loving medium. Even though, he succeeded in gaining considerable knowledge in film – making, adversities continued the inflow. Where women getting acted in plays are considered as a heinous act, finding a lady to essay the lead role was the next task. At least, he founded the right person in Rosy (Chandni). The duo and crew started a mission to walk in to the history. And yes, they indeed walked in to the history. But, they eventually walked out of the society. J.C. Daniel had lost all the wealth, he possessed till then. Along with wife Janet (Mamtha) and kids, he started living the other face of life.
So far as the movie is considered, “Celluloid” has all the ingredients of a clichéd, dramatic or melodramatic movie. And what about slang…! Do you see someone speaking the language today, not exactly…! Movie which opened up by giving tribute to the father of Malayalam cinema is not out of any flaws. A kind of preaching was there post – interval session. We feel sympathized towards the characters, but not to the extreme. And this is where movie becomes a clichéd, melodramatic cinema, sometimes even a documentary. May be the director was just scripting the exact history. But, is that enough for pulling you back from going to cinema halls, where the history of an unsung hero, that too of ours is playing.
Performances: This has to be counted as one of the best performances Prithviraj has produced. The range of characters from the twenties to seventies was a challenging task that was bravely accomplished by him. From the excitement of becoming the pioneer of filmmaking, to a melancholic man telling the tales of losses, the actor was pitching perfect. But, it should not be forgotten that, the intervention of Prithviraj over Mr. Daniel was visible in some portions, as far as the English he spoken is concerned.
Mamtha did an incredible role of the lifelong partner of J.C. Daniel. And Mamtha too, not quite sounded acquainted with the accent. It was a rather “Valluvanadan” slang than a “Travencore” one. But, as we have no sufficient knowledge about her birthplace, these are negligible. Chandni, whose Rosy was destined to hide out somewhere underground after “Vigathakumaran” got released was awesome, considering that she is a newcomer. The other cast, especially that of Sreenivasan’s – the narrator, were worth watching.
Technical aspects: It has followed a typical early moviemaking formats and techniques – from the color tone to the editing. What amazes us is the range of symbolism given by Venu through the camera. Visually movie is on par with those of the best period movies. The set has been created in a way that, all the people, houses, vehicles, won’t remind you that you are sitting in 21st century.
Music: Well, everybody knows that the songs will remind you of the yesteryears. M. Jayachandran has done a delicate job in recreating the mood of the period.
Script: The script was almost in sync with the history.
Direction: Director Kamal, with ample support from all the technical departments, whether it is music, cinematography, or design wise has been able to conceive us the tragic history. Barring some confusions regarding the historical accuracy, “Celluloid” has been crafted nicely by the director.
Verdict: There hasn’t been enough biopic movies in Malayalam. Well, this one is the restoration of an important history. Watch it for the maker who pioneered filmmaking in Malayalam, but patience is important…!