Language : Malayalam.
Director : Jithin Issac Thomas.
Writers : Jithin Issac Thomas.
Cast : Vishnu Govindhan, Athira Kallingal, Sreejith, Anand Manmadhan, Jobin Paul, Jicky Paul.
Genre : Thriller.
Streaming on Netflix.
Slight spoilers ensue: Regarding the nature and ending of the film.
Director Jithin Issac Thomas’s previous film, Pra.Thu.Mu that was part of the highly acclaimed anthology ‘Freedom Fight’ was a hard-hitting watch due to the way it touched upon caste politics, prevalent in our society, in a raw yet captivating manner. Through his latest film ‘Attention Please’, Jithin effectively continues this social commentary through the medium of a single-day thriller.
Apart from the obvious caste-based innuendos, Attention Please also touches upon several real-life incidents and the constant struggles faced by script-writers in the industry. This provides a layered texture to the film and keeps one guessing the exact reasons why the lead Hari (played by a terrific Vishnu Govindhan) starts to behave in a particular way after a point. Unlike Pra.Thu.Mu, the message here isn’t on your face, at least in comparison. The casual day-to-day bias among friends based on caste and the way it grows within individuals over time are neatly explored within the crisp runtime. Somewhere close to the end of the film, Hari starts talking about a personal incident involving him and his friend Jithin. This scene remained with me even after the film as it subtly touches upon how the poison of caste consumes us over time and influences the way we view the world, and our close ones.
Attention Please also doubles up as a sneak peek into the struggles of a writer. It talks about the current state of writers who are bogged down by the overtly critical mentality of the audience and the pressure to develop politically correct characters for their stories. There are also digs at cinephiles who are quick to find semblance and dismiss a story in the name of originality. For a keen and attentive audience, Attention Please can be interpreted in several ways and each story that Hari narrates in the film pushes one to perceive the film uniquely.
Vishnu Govindhan delivers a standout performance as Hari. For a film that relies heavily on dialogues and the changes in the psyche of its central character, Vishnu’s performance had to be entrancing and he does it effortlessly. It’s a tricky character, as we need to feel empathetic as well as terrified by his actions as the film progresses. Vishnu has internalized the pain of Hari, and communicates his misgivings with society brilliantly on screen. The rest of the cast, also give their best and make sure the performances and dialogues are always within the relatable zone.
I thoroughly enjoyed Jithin’s approach in this film. His command over the craft is appreciable and the way he sucks the audience into the space within which the story unfolds is praiseworthy. The idea to reveal certain key plot points along the way was a good move but the decision to leave the climax open-ended was something I didn’t enjoy. Although it seems like a catchy idea on paper, the film never really benefits from it as its objective was achieved already. It just leads to unnecessary confusion in the mind of the viewers. The camera angles and the right placement of BGMs accentuate the spookiness of the events happening on screen.
Overall, Attention Please is a commendable attempt that succeeds in presenting its politics in a cinematically engrossing manner. It forces one to look around and address the biases that have crept into each one of us, consciously or subconsciously.
Verdict : 5/7 stars