The Great Father (2017) Malayalam Movie Review by Veeyen


Haneef Adeni displays a distinct identity as a film maker and without doubt is a noteworthy addition to the crop of promising young directors in Mollywood. And yet, if ‘The Great Father’ cannot break away from from the psycho thriller déjà vu, it’s only because of the too recognizable narrative ploys that plague its screenplay.


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The best scene perhaps in Haneef Adeni’s directorial debut ‘The Great Father’ is an aerial shot when the camera follows a group of women workers along a pathway cut between grass thickets, when they suddenly stop having seen something ahead of them. They race back in anguish, while the camera remains still, with the grass rustling in the wind, and the mystery beyond the lens indiscernible.

An inspired scene perhaps, but one that does leave an impact, this scene is loaded with mystery that Adeni’s film hopes to maintain throughout its running time. However, ‘The Great Father’ is a film that very seldom moves beyond a level of initial intrigue, because of the dead weight of similarities with several other films, that it carries on it its back.

David Ninan (Mammootty) is a builder doing pretty well in life, and who is adored by his daughter Sarah (Anikha) who would rather have her dad run a mafia. Her doctor mom Michelle (Sneha) isn’t amused by her ways, while David strives hard to be the dad in his daughter’s dreams. A night and an unknown intruder change their lives forever, and David decides to prove once and for all, how truly great a father he is.

A rogue cop, Andrews (Arya) is brought in to investigate a series of murders that has rocked the city, and he soon gets to business. Almost as if to ensure the obligatory female presence, he has a lady police officer (Malavika Mohan) as an assistant, who for some strange reason serves more to rake in sexist comments by the dozen than anything else. She is leered at and generally derided for her appearance and outfits, and it’s all treated as if it’s a part of the male game.

The best line in the film however belongs to neither David nor Andrews, but to Susan Varghese (Mia George), the counselor who affirms that modestly isn’t something that every woman carries around somewhere between her stomach and the knee, and it certainly isn’t something that can be simply snatched away by an assailant.

And then Adeni throws a surprise on you with a real shocker of a moment that comes in at the most unexpected of times, that literally makes you jump out of your seats. The fine directorial flourishes are very much there, but they are mostly eclipsed by the tremendous limitations in the screenplay that has shades of a dated crime flick.

The mystery deepens as David sets himself on a hot pursuit of the psychopath who seems to be much enjoying this cat and mouse sport. His creaky voice over the telephone lures David and Andrews on to his hideout where Adeni sets the climactic showdown. This however turns out to be a meek affair that tries out almost all the passé ploys that one has witnessed.

This is a film that dwells on the camaraderie that is shared between a dad and his daughter, and as such it does score brownie points. But the questions do remain, the most prominent one being the logical query as to why the mother remains more of an obscure character in the background, even especially after  the traumatic experience that rocks the small family. When you expect the girl to turn to her mother, it surprises you that there is almost zero affiliation between the mom and the kid here, which makes it appear more like a designed move to keep the focus fixed solely on the great father.

The similarities and connections to several recent and not-so-recent films that you have watched are apparent. Even as you might let go everything else, you do wish that they had at least kept that clown mask away from the psychopath. I mean, after all these movies, we are at a point where we have actually forgotten what a clown originally did and instead believe that there is certainly a ruthless murderer behind that smiling face.

To be fair to Adeni though, ‘TGF’ is not a film that will turn you off, and for most of its part it keeps you occupied as well. But beyond the dreadful incident that throws things into turmoil, everything else in it is too obvious, and the final revelation that pulls the mask off the perpetrator comes across more of a weak whimper than anything else.

Of course Mammootty is tremendously good as David Ninan, and as much as all those suave looks and stunning wardrobe should be a treat for fans, he is best when the camera zooms in on his face when he opens up before a counsellor, and his eyes flit about revealing how vulnerable, incensed and distressed he truly is. Anikha does an amazing job as Sarah, while Arya plays the seemingly slapdash police officer to perfection. Sneha and Malavika Mohan are pretty impressive in their brief roles as well.

Haneef Adeni displays a distinct identity as a film maker and without doubt is a noteworthy addition to the crop of promising young directors in Mollywood. And yet, if ‘The Great Father’ cannot break away from from the psycho thriller déjà vu, it’s only because of the too recognizable narrative ploys that plague its screenplay.


Verdict: Average


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