Producer- Kamal and Ubaid
Cast- Prithviraj, Mamta Mohandas, Chandni, Sreejith Ravi, Sreenivasan etc.
Music- M. Jayachandran
Review by:Unni R Nair (Kerala9.com )
‘Celluloid’ is one film that we must see; it’s easy counting flaws, but the way Kamal has recreated history by narrating on screen the life-story of J C Daniel, the Father of Malayalam Cinema requires appreciation in the first place. I never felt, not even for a single moment, that the film is not up to the mark. It’s well-made in the first place and Kamal has made it in such a way that it’s no mere bio-pic, but a film that could be seen and liked by all sections of viewers. As much as I know about the life of J C Daniel, ‘Celluloid’ has done justice to his story as much as is possible within the parameters of popular cinema. Fitting homage indeed to a man who sort of ruined his life making the one film that became history…
‘Celluloid’ begins with young J C Daniel (Prithviraj) visiting Dadasaheb Phalke in Mumbai, in 1928. The young man from Travancore, who wants to make a film picks up the basics first and then decides that he’d better make a social drama rather than go for mythological adaptations, which was the trend then in Mumbai and Tamil Nadu. The story was readied and Daniel sold landed properties and his wife’s ornaments to make the film. ‘Celluloid’ etches the whole story in detail, highlighting the hassles that Daniel, his wife Janet (Mamta Mohandas), his friend Sundarraj (Sreejith Ravi) and others had to face and surmount during the making of ‘Vigatha Kumaran’, the first movie made in Kerala and also depicts the story of Rosy (played by Chandni), the film’s heroine, who had to pay it dear for having acted in the face of the social stigma that was attached with women taking up the acting profession. What all happened to J C Daniel and his film is traced in detail and the film travels through time, from 1928 through 1930 and the late 1960s to the present day.
Just because Kamal made the film not as an arty, complex one, but as one that fits well into the format of popular cinema, we have no right to dismiss it as just another superficial attempt. ‘Celluloid’ is a well-researched and well-made film, with performances that are very much up the mark. The film communicated well with the audience and also comments a bit on social issues like casteism and the issues related to stardom in cinema.
Appreciable attempt indeed!! Flaws, if any, are pardonable…
Prithviraj has done a perfect job as J C Daniel while Mamta and Sreejith Ravi too have put in commendable work. Chandni is the perfect choice for Rosy while Sreenivasan is his usual self as Chelangattu Gopalakrishnan, a journalist. The rest of the cast have rendered full support as well.
Venu’s cinematography and art-direction by Suresh Kollam contribute a lot towards recreating the past in the best of manners. Editing by Rajagopal is also good. Anyhow, it’s the cinematography and the art-work that require special mention…we’re indeed taken back into the Travancore of the late 1920s and late 1960s, thanks to the able support rendered by all technicians involved.
M Jayachandran has come out with music that gives us an old-time feel. There may be some who’d vouch against songs in a bio-pic like this; but there is no point denying the fact that the songs do add to the appeal of the film as a popular and commercial venture. We also have to point out that the songs don’t hamper the flow in any way.
Kamal has done a good work of the script. Kudos!
Kamal is in full control of the subject at hand- the life of one man who changed history but went unacknowledged while he lived. He has also managed to bring out the best in people (artists and technicians) working with him on the project. Good work indeed!!
Verdict- Fitting tribute to the Father of Malayalam Cinema; go watch it!!