‘Big Brother’ Movie Review: Mohanlal Sleepwalks Through An Exhausting Action Drama That Works Against Director Siddique’s Every Instinct

Director: Siddique

Cast: Mohanlal, Arbaaz Khan, Anoop Menon

Director Siddique, who also wrote Big Brother, seems to like jotting down ideas as and when he gets them. Some of his better ideas (and films) were, perhaps, those that may have come to him in the light of day, when things generally tend to make more sense. What about those ideas you get when half asleep, which you scribble on your bedside notepad, only to realise the next morning that none of them really makes sense? And what if you decide to make an entire film starring Mohanlal with THAT particular notepad as the script? That’s when you end up with a mess like Big Brother.

A shortage of standalone ideas isn’t really the problem with this film. We get a hero who has the unique ability to see in the dark. We’re then explained a concept where the police secretly use prisoners as pawns in covert operations. We also get the story of the same man who’s lived so long in prison that he can no longer survive in the outside world. And by the time a character shouts “Stockholm Syndrome” to explain one of the film’s sub-plots, you realise that director Siddique chose “All Of The Above”, instead of sticking to idea options A, B, C or even D. 

‘Big Brother’ Movie Review: Mohanlal Sleepwalks Through An Exhausting Action Drama That Works Against Director Siddique’s Every Instinct

Come to think of it, despite the success of Siddique’s films, it’s important to remember that most of them had at least one large chunk, usually a flashback in the second-half, that always felt forced. Like the Lalu Alex portions in Chronic Bachelor, the Soman flashback in Hitler, JD Chakravarthi’s godawful cameo in Bhaskar The Rascal, the climax of Friends or the entire runtime of Ladies and Gentleman. One shouldn’t forget that it was always the comedy that kept these films afloat; the drama was something we tolerated in our wait for the next big laugh. So when Siddique decides to make a full-length action drama like Big Brother, he really comes off as a fish out of water, struggling to make even the smallest of emotions stick. 

We realise that the film’s central emotion is about Sachi (Mohanlal) trying to protect his younger brother(s) not because we sense or feel any danger. It’s because we get dialogues basically drilling our heads with the plot multiple times. Entire strands and characters are abandoned like old  clothes and we struggle to get hold of the bigger picture to understand what’s at stake at any given point in time. Let’s say that we’re willing to overlook even these basics in a film that’s essentially an excuse for the next major action block. But the obvious rope work in these scenes is so clunky that it looks like the dress rehearsal of the trapeze act of an extremely amateur circus troupe.  

It then becomes hilarious to count the number of times a character calls on Sachi each time there’s the whiff of danger, only for him to miraculously get there, JUST in time. This happens so often that if Big Brother were a building, it would be called ‘Saviour Complex’.  We also get the absolutely original idea of casting Siddique in a hammy negative role where he plays a Mangalorean business tycoon, whose Kannada-accented Malayalam oscillates like the latest Khaitan table fan. Strangely, his daughter Arya speaks Malayalam fluently. 

The makers don’t even bother with things such as dubbing, especially when it comes to Arbaaz Khan’s character, who might as well have been explaining what he wanted to do with Dabangg 2. All the songs stick out and the jokes feel like they were dubbing-stage afterthoughts. By which point one realises that the only technique to suspend any more disbelief is by fainting.

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