The only hurdle for Alone’s protagonist probably comes in the third act, but by then the makers begin to spoon-feed the audience and then straps it with a supposed ‘clever ending’
Story: Kalidasan, a motivational speaker, moves into an apartment in Kochi during the pandemic lockdown. Soon, he starts hearing voices – of a mother and her daughter. Those close to him, whom he reaches out through phone calls, blame it on his alcoholic tendency and the stress during the lockdown. Kalidasan, however, is convinced that there is more to it and ventures to seek the source of the voices and secrets behind them.
Review: A movie with just Mohanlal in it would have been a mouth-watering proposition for many while the actor was in his prime. His spontaneous expressions and presence alone would have carried the film. Alone, a single-actor movie helmed by Shaji Kailas, had the setting in place, even though the timing of its release is probably at least a year too late. But does it work? Not quite.
For single-actor films to truly hold the audience’s attention, an intriguing plot is a must. Alone has a capable actor in Mohanlal but the movie travels through so many of the protagonist’s quirks and acquaintances that the focus from its core plot veers every now and then. The central arc in the movie revolves around its protagonist Kalidasan, who shifts to an apartment during the pandemic lockdown, setting out, within the confines of the complex, to investigate the source of the voices he hears. With every step, he also unravels new clues and secrets, but without much effort and this again makes it a convenient flow of events. The only hurdle for Alone’s protagonist probably comes in the third act, but by then the makers begin to spoon-feed the audience and then straps it with a supposed ‘clever ending’.
To the makers’ credit, unlike the chamber thrillers that were released during the pandemic, Alone never feels claustrophobic. Even though the protagonist roams around with a disinfectant spray and the film is extensively set inside an apartment and its corridors, the character has enough space to move around. Even the distracting visuals of a sky view from the apartment, which is only on the 13th floor, add to that.
But a few constraints could have actually benefitted a single-actor film like Alone, which could have been edited better. The scenes, which details its protagonist making tea, omlette and even semiya payasam, could have been eliminated to focus on what is driving Kalidasan crazy in the first place. Instead, we have the character lingering in the corridors and spelling out alphabets, much longer than what’s required.
While Mohanlal is the only actor you see on screen, the movie has host of stars lending their voices to characters – not all of whom are pivotal to the story. For instance, Prithviraj’s Hari bhai, a criminal who has been transformed by Kalidasan’s motivational speeches, is integral because his character also gives you an idea of what’s happening outside Kalidasan’s world. Manju Warrier, Nandu, Siddique, Renji Panicker, Suresh Krishna, Baiju Santosh and others have all lent their voices. In fact, after a point, the audience’s focus could almost shift towards identifying who is the face behind the voice. Another unwanted distraction. The music of the film too, at times, becomes jarring because you have up-tempo music painting the protagonist as a ‘mass’ hero when none of his prior actions warranted it.
The third act of Alone is probably what salvages the movie a bit, showing another side of Kalidasan’s character. But again, it’s not a film where you should look for logic, even though the writer and filmmaker try to explain their rationale, in a haphazard ending.
Verdict: Mohanlal’s Alone was a film that was made for OTT, right after the lockdown rules were lifted. It would have benefitted the movie if the team would have followed through with their plan in 2021 itself.