The opening shot of the classic movie Perfume, shows the protagonist’s birth. A baby is born in a fish market and begins his life sniffing the odour; he grows up and goes on the quest of a scent. Now to the movie at hand. Isaack Ibrahem is born in a hospital near a theatre, experienced only movies during his first few days and grew up dreaming about movies. As a young man with some experience and a lot of potential, he goes along with his dream of making a movie. His script, “The sky of the firelflies”, slowly becomes a movie. We see the almost naive, young director struggle to complete the project; but he gets a lot of help on the way and when completed, the movie is widely lauded and becomes India's entry for the Oscars. The director's trip to Los Angeles becomes the second half of the movie. There is no designated interval slot or a point where the movie could be folded into two halves; but the part where the director is in Los Angeles may be considered the second half.
Director Shahid Ahamed’s directorial debut Aadaminde Makan Abu was selected as India's official entry to the 84th Academy Awards and the movie also had a good run at the Box Office. It is probably the most culturally accurate movie portraying an average Malayali Muslim family. His experiences with Adaminde Makan Abu becomes the ground for “And The Oskar Goes to...”Isaack (Tovino), whose journey we follow, does a wonderful job, mostly with the scenes where he is portraying the vulnerability and struggles of a director. The first half breezes through how the movie is made with the help of a lot of people and how the director endures through the hardships. However, when the movie moves on too fast like that, we do not get the time to establish a connection with the protagonist. When all characters are passing clouds with the protagonist going on a journey, we need to feel a connection to the protagonist to be able to stay interested in the movie till the end. We like the actor Tovino – whose performance is comparable to that of veterans like Siddique and Salim kumar, with whom he shares screen space. Director Ahamed, whose autobiographical pieces shine through, is also a favourite since his debut. But this does not translate to the onscreen character and there is no scene or sequence that gets us to cheer for Isaack Ibrahem till the end. Sometimes, we are watching Tovino Thomas. Sometimes we are seeing Shahid Ahamed. The actual character on the screen is not a memorable character who will remain with us for a long time.
Not all actors are able to engage the audience in a second, like Salim Kumar does in this one. Within minutes, he has us eating off his palms. Siddique is also another genius this way. Though his character has minimum scope, the veteran actor does well. The protagonist's mother and Zareena Wahab (who appears as Salim Kumar's wife in the last 5 minutes) are both well-sketched characters. The foreign PR lady would probably irritate foreigners like how poorly sketched Indian characters in foreign movies irritate us. Overall, everybody do a reasonably good job in the movie. After a long time, And the OsKar goes to... could have given the satisfaction that a Malayali derives off a Basheer novel. The style of narration that the script seems to follow brings back strong memories of the writing style of authors like Basheer and Uroob; but as a movie, it doesn’t seem to translate well. The first half is a scattering of scenes and the second half - a scattering of ideas. The movie tries to go along the route that Action Hero Biju takes; but the effort is not entirely successful with Tovino being a very convincing shy Malayali man, who is an observer more than a perpetrator.
The background score is a bit overwhelming at places. Some movies need to have quiet and peace – this was one of them. The swell of the background jars with the movie for a while before easing into brilliantly portrayed natural sounds before going flat for some scenes; the jarring orchestra is back again after the interval – the movie does not assign a specific point for an interval (we just take an abrupt break). The placement of the only song is forced; they’d have done better without it. Overall, it will not be a loss if you miss And the Oskar Goes To... However, if wonderful performances delight you, watch it for the cast which does an amazing job. If you’re a fan of Shahid Ahmed, you’d smile a lot through the movie. Other than that, there is not much that the movie has to offer.
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