Neerali movie cast: Mohanlal, Nadhiya, Parvatii Nair
Neerali movie director: Ajoy Varma
Neerali movie rating: 4 stars
We all need to move to stay alive. It is not for nothing they say ‘movement is life.’ But imagine a situation where you are forced to refrain from moving if you want to stay alive. Consider, for example, the predicament of Sunny (Mohanlal) in Neerali. His pick-up is lodged on the edge of a cliff located in a deep forest which is populated with wild elephants and snakes.
And now imagine how challenging the situation will become when he has a wife, who just went into labour, and a possessive girlfriend to deal with. They keep calling him to complain while his life is hanging in balance on a fallen tree trunk that is keeping his truck from plunging into a deep gorge. Terrifying, isn’t it?
Writer Saju Thomas has spun an entertaining narrative about a helpless man, who is caught between complicated women in his life and a deep void. The movie begins with the pick-up, in which Sunny is travelling with his driver friend Veerappa (Suraj Venjaramoodu), veering off the road and diving into the jungle. The vehicle miraculously stops on the edge of a cliff, leaving Veerappa badly wounded and Sunny in a helpless situation in the passenger seat.
Veerappa can’t move a muscle in his body to save his life. It is now up to Sunny to do something extraordinary to pull away himself and his friend from the jaws of death. The film keeps cutting back and forth in time, narrating the bond between Sunny and Veerappa, the details about their families and the personal problems that they have to deal individually. The truck also holds a box full of diamonds worth Rs 5 crore, which is being pursued by a gang of gun-wielding criminals led by Rajan (Dileesh Pothan).
As if these problems are not enough, Sunny’s outgoing calls have been barred on the account of non-payment stopping him from phoning his friends for help.
Malayalam superstar Mohanlal gives a convincing performance as a person constantly swinging between hope and despair. What’s striking is director Ajoy Varma and writer Sanju’s dedication to protecting the integrity of the story by not altering it to suit the stardom of Mohanlal.
The man, who made Rs 100 crore at the box office by single-handily taking down highly-trained international assassins and tackling 300-kg tigers (Pulimurugan), is reduced to a mortal being – screaming and crying for help. In fact, Mohanlal’s superstar image has done a great service to the filmmakers. In more than one scene, I almost thought that Mohanlal was about to pull off some unbelievable stunt and save the day. Ajoy and Sanju even trick you into believing that Sunny will train a wild and unruly monkey with four pieces of cake to help him. Sunny has a bag full of tricks that he performs in the backdrop of an adrenaline pumping song. But, his tricks are not enough to save him from the imminent danger.
Neerali is not a regular superstar film. He is not stronger or bigger than his circumstances. The only extraordinary thing that Mohanlal’s Sunny can do is keep up his hope and determination to survive. And trust me, that’s a big ask in such despairing situations.
Not just Sunny, other characters in Neerali are also always negotiating between life and death. Mollykutty (Nadhiya) is worried that she may not survive the pregnancy, Naina (Parvatii Nair) has suicidal thoughts as she stands on the ledge of her apartment building after Sunny refuses to meet her romantic expectations. Veerappa is hopeful of winning back the respect of his daughter. The stakes keep on growing in the story, drawing the audience to the edge-of-the-seat.
You may also find humor in Sunny’s sufferings. Sunny’s nearly unsuccessful attempts to make his wife Mollykutty and his work-friend Naina understand the situation he is in are funny. He has to ensure that he doesn’t say something that will tick them off and make them hang up the phone on him.
Also Read: Five reasons to watch Mohanlal’s Neerali
Cinematography Santosh Thundiyil’s picturisation of Sunny’s ordeal under the moonlight in the jungle adds to the thriller. The film also has satisfying special effects. Look out for the scene, where a cobra raises its head and flicks its tongue just an inch away from Sunny’s terrified face.