'Napoleon', starring Anand Ravi, Ravi Varma and Komali in lead roles, hits the screens this Friday. Here is our review.
Napoleon (Anand Ravi) comes to the police station complaining that he has lost his shadow. The CI (played by Ravi Varma) is quite flabbergasted by the claim, so also his senior (Kedar Shankar in a largely inconsequential role) and his juniors.
Napoleon, now a state-wide sensation, also starts claiming that God is visiting him in dreams to tell weird stuff like how lower back pain is caused by the Municipal Corporation! But not all of his Goddamed dreams are eerie.
When Napoleon says that one Tirupathi who is believed to have died in an accident was actually murdered, it interests the CI to reopen the case, who discovers that it was indeed a murder.
The cops' investigation leads to some startling facts.
Meanwhile, we learn that Napoleon may have forgotten his identity and his wife (Komali) is baffled at the unexpected turn of events in her life.
The credits claim that the director thanks three filmmakers for inspiring him: Puri Jagannadh, Anurag Kashyap and Mysskin. To be sure, the influence of the first of these becomes quite obvious when we learn that Napoleon is an orphan. As for the influence of the second, one perhaps has to find it in the film's unconventional portrayal of a supernatural idea.
The film is essentially a whodunit with a touch of the paranormal. In coming to its crime-thriller self, however, it takes its time.
The first half descends into a trickiness show in terms of Napoleon's mind-blowing conversations with the cop Ravi Varma. The entry of his wife, Sravanthi (Komali), who is in search of her missing husband, only adds to the aura of mystery. Further, when a watchman pretends to not know anything about the murder under investigation, there is a sense of eerie suspense.
After revealing the identity of Napoleon by interval bang, the second half goes about telling the backstory of Napoleon, Ashok, Tirupathi, Sravanthi and Vardhan.
Amidst all this, there is the sentimental element of the pain of orphanhood.
Without a doubt, all those socially-conscientious lines/scenes/messages in the first half could have been avoided. In retrospect, they don't mean much, not even if we consider that the intention of the writer-director was to make the characters of Napoleon and the CI more layered.
When it comes into its own, the film unravels the crime angle in a fairly gripping fashion. In the climax, we are treated to some lines that suggest that women ought to be more humane than men and such old-fashioned dialogues are out of place.
The element of the missing shadow, too, is overplayed. At least, there should have been a metaphorical meaning attached to it.
The one main woman character comes with a fairly good characterization. While Sravanthi's dialogues and reactions may puzzle here and there, they make sense after the flashback.
Anand Ravi, the film's writer-director, has essayed the titular role in his own way without trying to be like some other hero. Ravi Varma gets to play a full-fledged character and as a sincere cop, he is quite convincing, especially in his demeanor. At times, he seems to get more space than even Napoleon. If Komali does her part well, changing over into another shade with ease, Gururaj passes muster.
Siddharth Sadasivuni's background music fits the bill. Cinematographer Margal David captures the humble backdrops well.
'Napoleon' works because of its nail-biting storyline. It's a revenge drama with a supernatural spin. Although the pace slackens to an extent in the second half, the finale should work.