Let me begin with a question. What’s it that you liked and remember the most in ‘Manichithrathazhu’? Well, whatever the answer is, I bet you won’t find that thing here in ‘Geethanjali’, the sequel to this much-loved film. Now, even if you want to forget ‘Manichithrathazhu’ and enjoy ‘Geethanjali’ as a different film, I don’t think it would satisfy you. It just doesn’t work- neither as a sequel nor as an independent film.
Now, over to point number 2. Well, why did Priyadarshan have to go for a rehash of the Priyamani starrer ‘Charulatha’ (which itself was an adaptation of the Thai film ‘Alone’) and dish it out to a film-viewing public that was expecting (Well, I was not expecting that much after seeing the trailers) something magical like ‘Manichithrathazhu’. No, no, there is no forgetting ‘Manichithrathazhu’, because by getting Mohanlal to play Dr. Sunny once again, Priyadarshan was sort of asking us to expect another ‘Manichithrathazhu’.
You may count many plusses with ‘Manichithrathazhu’, but, in my view, one of the most important highlights of the movie was the presence and performance of Shobhana, who went on to bag the National Award for the best actress for her performance in the film. Can you remember ‘Manichithrathazhu’ without remembering Shobhana? The film is as much Shobhana’s as it is Mohanlal’s, or is it more of a Shobhana movie? What about ‘Geethanjali’? Forget that there is no Shobhana in it, or an actress who comes somewhere near her as regards performance. Is it in any way even a Mohanlal film? My answer would be a loud, real emphatic ‘No’. Ok, let’s forget the actors; how far is ‘Geethanjali’ impressive as a Priyadarshan film? Well, here too you are likely to be in for a disappointment.
I know I have to say something about the story; but I would make it brief. That would suffice. Anoop (Nishan) and Anjali (Keerthy Suresh) are based in Mumbai and are all set to tie the knot. Just as they are set to start for Kerala, where they would get married, news reaches them of that Anjali’s mother Annamma (Seema) has had a fall and is in hospital. They reach Kerala. Annamma is in hospital, unconscious after the fall. In the meantime, they stay at Anjali’s ancestral home. Queer things start happening. Anjali begins to see things; the ghost of her twin sister Geetha, who died some years back, starts visiting her and the story takes an eerie turn. What next? Dr Sunny Joseph (Mohanlal) makes his entry, brought in to solve it all...
Well, if you ask me, the story of ‘Geethanjali’ is quite predictable, even if you haven’t seen the films from where the story has been taken. Moreover, the first half of the film is full of clichéd scenes- the kind of scenes that you get to see in almost all horror films. Yes, it goes like a horror flick to an extent and then takes a different direction. In fact, from scene one itself, I went on telling my friend Sooraj, who was with me watching the movie, what all is likely to happen and surprisingly my predictions went 100 percent right, yes 100 percent. And I hadn’t seen ‘Charulatha’, the story of which I got to know only after I watched ‘Geethanjali’ today morning. I made inquiries after coming to know that it’s a lift-off from ‘Charulatha’ and came to know that the story is the same... So it’s no surprise package for you; having watched so many films, you can keep on guessing and most of your guesses may come true.
To give a very impartial review, I’d say that 60 percent of the film seemed rather tolerable to me. I tended to forget ‘Manichithrathazhu’ and was almost enjoying (or rather just watching without much of pleasure or displeasure) ‘Geethanjali’. But just as it was drawing to close, things went totally out of control. People all around me, all of them youngsters and some of them ardent Mohanlal fans, stood up and booed, very loudly. As I went on watching the end portion of the film, I realized that they were not booing for nothing. It was real intolerable, terribly intolerable. As the film ended I could see Mohanlal fans, some of them acquaintances of mine, sitting terribly disappointed and even heard them comforting one another saying “Ini aduthathu nokkam da, ‘Jilla’ undu, ‘Drishyam’ undu...” (Let’s wait for the next, ‘Jilla’ is there, ‘Drishyam’ is there...). They were terribly disappointed.
Yes, that’s it. The final bit, which in fact called for intense performances from Keerthy and Nishan and went totally wrong, marred the whole film. Even otherwise the film was just so so. The story too doesn’t impress you; it’s the treatment that goes wrong. Now, if you want to enjoy it as a Mohanlal film, then also you end up being disappointed; he doesn’t get much to do, performance-wise. The humour too doesn’t work out well. The film, on the whole, disappoints you...
Mohanlal does what he can to salvage his character, but the script doesn’t offer him the kind of space that had endeared Dr. Sunny earlier to us, in ‘Manichithrathazhu’. I don’t think we would be able to remember ‘Geethanjali’ as a Mohanlal film. Keerthy Suresh, whom we had earlier seen as a child artist in ‘Kuberan’, is comfortable with her dual roles, that of Geetha and Anjali, but the end sequence, which demands high-intensity performance, just doesn’t work out with her. She cuts a sorry figure there. Same with Nishan; he is OK in about 50 percent part of the movie, after which his performance starts faltering. He too is not able to deliver when it comes to the very intense climax portion. Swapna Menon is good while Innocent, though perfectly in sync with his role, seems to be repeating himself and hence doesn’t draw much of a laugh. Ganesh Kumar does full justice to his role. The others- Siddique, Madhu, Seema etc- do justice to their roles.
Tirru has done a good job of the cinematography while art-director Ilayaraja and editor T S Suresh render full support.
Background score suits the mood and tempo. Songs by Vidyasagar have been visualised in true Priyadarshan style.
Screenplay is by Abhilash Nair and dialogues are by Dennis Joseph. In fact there is nothing much to say about the script; I’d say it’s all just average and provides nothing new. The film is also replete with clichéd scenes and that works mostly against the film.
As director, Priyadarshan is in control of things. But he fails miserably as regards making the best use of the actors at his disposal. He has failed in eliciting the right kind of performance from both Nishan and Keerthy in the climax sequences. It’s also surprising that even Mohanlal, with whom Priyadarshan shares a great rapport, doesn’t get to do much in the film. The director should perhaps have chosen another story for the ‘Manichithrathazhu’ sequel and should have spent more time for the script. Anyway, ‘Geethanjali’ fails to hit the mark; better luck next time...