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Djinn review: Soubin Shahir-Sidharth Bharathan’s film’s promise and potential gives way to a warmed-up, familiar plot

The writing does not make full use of the intriguing premise that was promised, and the convoluted storytelling gives way to an ending that lacks closure.

2.5/5rating
Djinn review: Soubin Shahir-Sidharth Bharathan’s film’s promise and potential gives way to a warmed-up, familiar plot

  • Shilpa S

Last Updated: 06.06 PM, Jan 06, 2023

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Story:

Almost everyone in Lalappan’s small town is well aware of his mental illness. The townspeople make sure to be wary whenever the man is struck by one of his usual ‘mental imbalances’, and no amount of traditional medicine and religious rituals can seem to heal him of his issues. When Lalappan’s childhood friend comes before him with an intriguing proposition, which has more to it than what meets the eye, the former finds it hard to refuse.

Review:

Djinn’s opening sequence starts with a wedding, the event serving as the lead into what viewers can expect from the protagonist, a troubled young man named Lalappan, who is periodically affected by what those around them call ‘mental imbalances’. Lalappan’s episodes seem to be haphazard and unpredictable- while he sometimes seems to be ‘possessed’ by the spirits of the deceased, other times he becomes triggered by taking things too literally. And unsurprisingly, rather than properly treating his mental illness, his family and loved ones decide to go the religious and traditional route, with herbal medicines and rituals.

Sidharth Bharathan certainly chose a premise, and a protagonist, with a lot of promise when it came to Djinn. Lalappan’s character holds a lot of intrigue, made all the more better by Soubin Shahir’s grounded and mesmerising performance. Lalappan makes viewers feel a spectrum of emotions, largely positive, and the way he is written and performed strikes a chord with viewers, no matter how over the top some sequences turn out. He is unlucky in love, in denial of the severity of his condition, and still tries to put out as much good as he can, and is relatable in more ways than one. The rural, small town setting also provided ample scope for some witty sequences. Unfortunately, the character and the promise he held seemed to be squandered as the story progressed past its first act.

Rajesh Gopinadhan’s writing seemed to have started a downward spiral right from the start of the second act, where Lalappan finds himself in the midst of a chaotic situation. What makes the protagonist interesting and unique quickly takes a backseat in the second act, and the story takes on the tone of a warmed-up plot that viewers have definitely seen before.

From there on, the storytelling becomes equal parts convoluted and equal parts predictable and cliched. The script tries to cram in a number of complications to the plot which, perhaps intended to add to the drama and the pace of the story. But they fall short, and viewers are left wishing for something more crisp.

The supporting characters, including the ones of Sharaf U Dheen, Shine Tom Chacko, Leona Lishoy, Sabumon Abdusamad and Santhy Balachandran, are given little to work with, and it is an out and out Soubin show. Not giving too much away, the second act is where his character falters and becomes a mishmash of cliched tropes, and none of them are in any way intriguing enough to hold one’s attention.

The third act feels incredibly rushed, as if the writer ran out of the story to tell, and viewers are left with an ending that is a far cry from one that gives closure. Unanswered questions, some of them which the story itself planted into the viewer’s minds right from the start, make the film’s ending not sit right for anyone invested in Lalappan’s tale, which is by far one of the biggest let downs in Sidharth Bharathan’s tale.

Verdict:

Djinn held a lot of promise, largely due to its intriguing and well written protagonist, superbly played by Soubin Shahir. But the potential it had starts to unravel right from the start of the second act of the film, where the story starts to take on the tone of a warmed-up plot that viewers have definitely seen before.

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