Attention Please: A Thrilling Slow Burn on the Subtleties of Urban Casteism

Jithin Issac Thomas’s brilliant film is now streaming on Netflix
Attention Please: A Thrilling Slow Burn on the Subtleties of Urban Casteism

Jithin Issac Thomas’s brilliant Attention Please hit the cinemas and left without making much noise. However, the Malayalam film is now available on Netflix, offering a gripping storyline brought to life with spectacular performances and some impactful cinematography.

The film starts off with a sneak-peek into the lives of five bachelors sharing an apartment. The setup of the place is very “bachelor-esque” or rather how most bachelor spaces are depicted in films. We are introduced to the main character, Hari (played by Vishnu Govindhan), who is an aspiring (read struggling) scriptwriter and is keen on narrating his stories to his flatmates at every possible opportunity. However, his flatmates are dismissive of his writing and constantly ask him to find a job in order to sustain himself. This discouragement is expressed most loudly by the flatmate who has been covering all of Hari’s living expenses for a while now. These conversations that are critical of his stories also include multiple references to successful scriptwriters in the Malayalam film industry as well as critically acclaimed actors and movies from the recent past. During one such conversation, Hari starts narrating stories and after each story he is criticised by his flatmates for gaps in the storyline or similarities to older films. The stories keep continuing as the night takes a dark turn leading to a chain of unforeseen events.

With the entire film shot in a single location, it banks heavily on artist performances and the technical aspects, both of which do not fail to deliver. Even the everyday mundane conversations of these men keep us engaged throughout, giving us a sense of their characters and personalities. The transition from these conversations to the events that later transpire is gradual with each of Hari’s stories getting darker by the minute. A big shout out to Vishnu Govindhan who nails his performance as the aspiring scriptwriter with his impactful storytelling mechanisms and also as the menacing character who takes over the latter parts of the film.

The cinematography sets the perfect mood for each scene in the film, particularly with an effective use of lighting. The lighting compliments Hari’s stories and drives the narrative as it slowly progresses from a jovial evening into a terrifying night.

Throughout all of this, Thomas blends his caste politics into the narrative, either as a passing comment by the flatmates, or an insensitive narration of an incident involving Hari. The film portrays urban casteism that goes unnoticed due to the subtle ways in which it is projected and how it could potentially affect people with past trauma from caste discrimination and ostracisation. Thomas does not shy away from depicting Hari’s frustrations in all its rage, which reveals the degree of his trauma.

The film ends on an ominous and rather ambiguous note, which leaves us pondering over the happenings of that night. Attention Please is an impactful film to say the least. The watertight writing, effective cinematography along with excellent performances and direction prove its technical and creative brilliance.

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