Review: Solo

Director: Bejoy Nambiar; Cast: Dulquer Salman, Dhansikaa, Shruthi Hariharan, Nasser, Suhasini Mani Ratnam, Sathish and others

Film: Solo

Director: Bejoy Nambiar

Cast: Dulquer Salman, Dhansikaa, Shruthi Hariharan, Nasser, Suhasini Mani Ratnam and others

Music: Prashant Pillai

Cinematography: Girish Gangadharan, Madhu Neelakandan and Sejal Shah

It takes expertise to narrate short stories and Bejoy Nambiar is, without doubt, an expert at spinning stories.

In Solo, he comes up with four short stories. One of these is crisp and to the point. Two are reasonably good and one is stretched, unintentionally funny and to traditionalists, even a little offensive.

Nevertheless, let us get to the stories…

The first story of Solo is about Shekhar (Dulquer), a stuttering youngster with a short temper and a stable mind, and his unconditional love for Radhika ( a visually challenged graceful dancer) with a commanding presence. The story begins with Shekhar looking to help his friend score over another rival in the competition to win Radhika’s love. However, she dicloses that she is interested in neither contender vying for her affection and that she is actually interested only in Shekhar.

They start dating each other and that bond slowly grows into a relationship. Four years later, there comes a time when they decide to marry. As expected, the families of both individuals are opposed to their marriage. It is then that Radhika discloses that she is pregnant. And with it comes some news that puts Shekar’s love for Radhika and their child to a serious test. Does Shekhar’s love survive the test? Story one gives the answer.

The next story is the best in the entire film. It begins with a a speeding car knocking down a female cyclist Ayesha (Arthi Venkatesh), causing serious injuries. Justin, the driver of the car, and his future father-in-law are shocked. Justin decides to save the seriously injured girl by taking her to the nearest hospital. However, his father in law is against the idea as he believes they will get into trouble as they both are drunk. Both continue to argue even as Justin drives at a furious pace. But halfway through to the hospital, the girl dies. Or that is what Justin thinks. His Father in law points out that taking the body to the hospital at a time when Justin’s wedding with his daughter Anne is to take place in a week’s time wouldn’t be a good idea. They therefore dump the body on the roadside and make their way home.

Four years later, Justin’s father-in-law passes away. And, soon after, Justin too has a bad accident. Luckily, he is saved by a passerby called Dr Trilok (Dulquer), who gets him admitted to a hospital. As Justin recovers, he realises that Trilok is the husband of the girl who was killed four years ago. Initially, he tries to avoid meeting Trilok but with guilt killing him, he chooses to confide in Trilok. When he does, he finds that the secret he has been guarding is nothing compared to the secrets that he is about to be let into.

The third story has Dulquer playing Shiva, a silent but feared gangster working for Bhadran (Manoj K Jayan). Shiva, as a child, would have witnessed the break up of his mom with his dad. That hardens him and drives him into becoming what he is. His dad, an alcoholic, meanwhile turns abusive and physically batters Shiva’s younger brother. With an intention to safeguard his welfare, Shiva, who now lives with Rukku (Sruthi Hariharan) gets his younger brother to move in with them. One day, news reaches Shiva that his dad has been shot. One day, a random man shoots dead his dad at a bar. Seething with rage, Shiva tracks the killer to Mumbai. He heads to the city to exact revenge. But then, just as he is about to succeed, he comes across something that stuns him out of his senses…

The final story in the film shows Dulquer as Lt Rudra Ramachandran, an arrogant, brash, dashing cadet at the Military Academy who is madly in love with Bhama (Neha Sharma), the daughter of Brigadier Sunderrajan (Suresh Menon). Rudra, who is high handed, is so arrogant that he chooses to walk into his girl friend’s home every time a prospective alliance comes. Then, he audaciously challenges the prospective bridegroom to a fist fight, eventually using that as an excuse to pummel the poor bloke out of his senses. Bhama, who too claims that she is in love with Rudra, enjoys such acts of brazenness by her dream boy.

When this becomes a habit with Rudra, an annoyed Sunderrajan recommends that the brash cadet be kicked out of the academy. Lt Colonel Ramachandran (Nasser), who happens to be Rudra’s dad, however keeps begging authorities and Sunderrajan to give him another chance. His wife (Suhasini) too keeps pleading with their son to make him give up this habit but to no avail.

Finally, when things threaten to get out of hand, Bhama is sent to Australia for higher studies. Both Bhama and Rudra agree before her departure that they will get back together after the completion of their respective courses.

Four years pass and Rudra finishes his course in the academy to become a full-fledged officer. However, Bhama is no longer in touch. After his attempts to meet her are repeatedly spurned, Rudra begins to convince himself that there was never even a person called Bhama in his life. Life is peaceful until one day, he receives a wedding invite in which he finds his girl’s name printed. His colleagues in the army insist he must find out the answers as to why she chose to opt for another man after promising to marry him. They set out to arrive on the wedding day. Rudra seeks answers but then, the answers leave him shaken. What could they be? Solo’s fourth story tells it.

Among the four stories that have been presented, it is the second story which across as being the best as it strikes its mark precisely. It is a gripping tale that has good screenplay and keeps you interested in it right from start to finish. Dulquer as Dr Trilok scores a perfect 10 as does Arthi Venkatesh as Ayesha. The manner in which the story is narrated and the manner in which it is brought to a conclusion, add immense value to the story.

The next best story is the one in which Dhansikaa as Radhika comes up with a sparkling performance. Her presence is commanding and measured as opposed to Dulquer who struggles to play the role of Shekhar, a youngster with a stuttering problem. In fact, Dulquer’s stammering comes across as being artificial on most occasions. Dhansikaa scores hands down in this story, which has a heart warming message. The comedy of Sathish, who comes as Shekar’s friend, also clicks.

The third story in which Dulquer plays a gangster, has a fantastic performance coming in from Sruthi Hariharan as Rukku. Dulquer has very few dialogues to deliver in this story but his body language and expressions talk louder and more frequently than his words. Despite good performances, the story is boring beyond a point and therefore, disappointing.

The fourth story might be the surprise package — not to the audiences but to the makers. For, one gets the impression that while the story was made to evoke a feeling of sympathy from the audience, it gets them to actually laugh at the proceedings. What they thought would be received as a tragedy, is unfortunately being perceived as a comedy by a considerable section of the audience. When Dulquer as Rudra learns of the reasons why Bhama chose to wed another man, the filmmakers, one feels, would have wanted the audience to empathise with his character and feel sorry for his loss. Instead, to most audiences, the reason cited comes across as being funny.

The film has some scintillating music by Prashant Pillai. On most occasions, the background score is perfect. One of the popular songs of the band Agam called the Boat Song has been used by the team. However, the manner in which it has been customised for this picture is bound to leave fans of the band Agam angry and annoyed.

All three cinematographers, Girish Gangadharan, Madhu Neelakandan and Sejal Shah, have done a fantastic job in this film. Every frame is a masterpiece and deserves all the praise it can get. Off the four stories, two are just about okay and one fails miserably. Therefore, Solo is true to its name as only one of the four stories actually makes the cut.