9 (2019) Malayalam Movie Review – Veeyen


‘9’ could have done immensely better had it kept its focus on the sci-fi element that is probably one of the most unexplored realms in Malayalam cinema. What ruins it is the psychological drivel that it succumbs to, and the subsequent concoction that emerges that pleases fans of none of the genres.


9-Malayalam-Movie-review

In the opening sequence of Januse Mohammed’s ‘9’, Albert’s dad walks him out on an eclipse day, cardboard cartons thrown over their heads. The natural phenomenon over, Albert darts out one query after the other, all of which his dad patiently answers. As the sky clears up, his dad asserts that there is nothing wrong in asking questions and that when beset with doubts, he should look up at the sky and constantly seek answers.

Two and a half hours later, you walk out of the cinema hall, out into the night and ponder if you should stay back just a while. The sky appears a strange shade of blue, and you squint your eyes up at it, hoping to find the answers to those several queries that have bubbled up in your mind over the last couple of hours.

9-Malayalam-Movie-review

To be fair to Januse, he takes a chance and a massive one at that with ‘9’ and blends in what seems like three diverse genres  – science fiction, horror and clinical psychiatry – in a film that does justice to neither. There are the spurts and leaps that the film exhibits every now and then, but beyond these, ‘9’ makes do with some well acknowledged cinematic tropes.

Years later, Albert (Prithviraj) has had a tough job with parenting, as his son Adam (Alok) shows disquieting tendencies of turning delinquent. Expelled from school, following an untoward incident, a visibly disturbed Adam keeps saying that he misses his mom Annie (Mamta Mohandas) whom he has never actually seen, and who had passed away when he was born.

9-Malayalam-Movie-review

Albert is an astrophysicist who looks forward to a phenomenon that has sent the whole world into anxious raptures – the passing by of a comet that would bring all electronic communication on the planet to a standstill for the next nine days. It is then that Dr. Inayat Khan (Prakash Raj), his professor comes up with an offer that is impossible to refuse – that of heading over to a quaint old village in the Himalayas to work on a project for the Time magazine, and get to watch the comet in action from one of the best accessible view points in the world.

The D-day arrives, and the comet passes by, leaving a red trail that would hang around in the sky for the next nine days. Meanwhile Albert runs into a wolf that chases him out of the woods, and Ava (Wamiqa Gabbi) who lies unconscious with a smoldering piece of the comet tucked inside her backpack. Not much longer, Adam senses something wrong with Ava, and warns his dad that he should not believe everything that he sees.

The setting is grand, and ‘9’ strikes you as an ambitious project, especially in the initial minutes of the film. But Ava turns the tables around, and the film loosens its grip on us. The sci-fi bit disappears along with the comet and what we are left with is an ominous presence that glides around in curls of thick black smoke.

The film pushes along with  Ava emerging the perfect evil spirit and with several sequences that build on the horror that lurks in the air. It also remains without that cathartic event or a suggestion of it that would keep you focused, and eventually moves towards a climax that makes you shake your head in disbelief – chiefly at the comparable manner in which twists have started appearing in Prithviraj starrers of late. There is also the epilogue that is a purposeful add-on for the ones who still are in a mood to wrack your brains, and for the ones who aren’t, there is always the sky to look upon.

9-Malayalam-Movie-review

Prithviraj strives hard to make ‘9’ work, and as in all his films, gives it his very best, but is terribly restrained by the discrepancies in the script. The acting honour of the day however belongs to Wamiqa, who brings in the dread and terror that Ava spreads around with an icy composure. Alok who plays Adam  works wonders too with his large, doleful eyes, while actors as Mamta Mohandas and Prakash Raj lend steadfast support. ‘9’ is impressively shot as well, with cinematographer Abhinandan Ramanujan crafting dazzling frames, and the background score by Sekhar Menon is eerie to the core.

‘9’ could have done immensely better had it kept its focus on the sci-fi element that is probably one of the most unexplored realms in Malayalam cinema. What ruins it is the psychological drivel that it succumbs to, and the subsequent concoction that emerges that pleases fans of none of the genres.


Verdict: Average


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