Director: Prithviraj Sukumaran
Cast: Mohanlal, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Lalu Alex, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Meena, Kaniha
Prithviraj Sukumaran's Bro Daddy stars Prithviraj Sukumaran along with Mohanlal, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Meena, Kaniha and the wonderful Lalu Alex. It took me a while to get into this film which is playing on Disney Hotstar. When I mean a while, I mean just about 10 minutes because even though I like it in the cartoons, I'm not a fan of real movies using this frantic Mickey Mouse music to underline the comedy and it was happening a little bit in the early portions of the film.
Also, after seeing Prithviraj in a series of serious roles, it took me a little time to get into the pitch of his performance here. But I must say that after about 10 to 15 minutes, I was totally sold. Bro Daddy is a sweet, silly, very likeable movie with lots of laughs and I enjoyed all of that. But there's something more here. I have rarely seen someone put so much effort into staging a comedy which is usually seen as just a series of jokes and not worthy of being staged.
I'm not a real fan of Lucifer, I found the script very flabby and I don't think the director could do much with it. But in this much smaller film, he really shines as a director and he really knows cinema, for example, there is a shocking bit of news that he receives from his father Mohanlal. Of course, Prithviraj's face is shocked but then the camera does a dolly zoom. You can go and look up any article on vertigo and find out what a dolly zoom is. But what I'm trying to say is that Prithviraj is shocked and the camera appears equally shocked.
What I also really liked is how he lets the film breathe. The story is about the confusion surrounding two pregnancies. This sort of thing is usually played at a very frantic pace. That does not happen here. Also, in these kinds of movies, the emphasis is mainly on jokes. So the scenes between the jokes are like 'just do anything and so that we can get to the next joke'. But here the script is solid, it's written by Sreejith N and Bibin Maliekal, and they realise that comedy stands out more when it's juxtaposed against drama.
For example, there is this very lovely echo scene where a fetus is addressed as a living thing and the sentiment is first uttered by Prithviraj's girlfriend, and later it finds an echo when the same statement is repeated by Prithviraj's mother played by Meena.
Let's take Kalyani Priyadarshan and her fondness for her father played by Lalu Alex. This fondness is evident whether she is apologising to him for a big mistake or even in a very casual scene where she's just like saying bye to him from a bus. The relationships in this film really work and there are very sweet touches like how Mohanlal watches Amitabh Bachchan movies on TV, or how Kalyani Priyadarshan was named. The character was named after the woman that her father was formerly in love with.
There are small dramatic moments that worked beautifully too. Like the way Prithviraj and Kalyani make up after a fight. They make up over a phone and you can see Kalyani Priyadarshan's smile first being small and then growing wider after what Prithviraj says. A favourite such touch is a scene where a very worried Kalyani embraces Mohanlal at one point and he reassures her—this tiny scene is so lovely because it underlines the seriousness but in a very light way.
Things are woven organically into the script. For example, take the maternity hospital angle. Early on in the movie, we hear at an event that somebody is planning to build a series of hospitals. Then in the middle of the movie, we realised that to market the series of hospitals, a very high-level ad plan is needed. And at the end of this movie, we get this high-level ad plan that solves not just the hospital's marketing issues, but also the film's central problem beautifully.
The Lalu Alex character is a butt of all jokes, but his daughter's fondness for him and the few scenes that he has after he realises the truth makes sure that he never loses his dignity. We may laugh at this man, but he's never treated like a clown. He is very emotional about the company he runs which was established with great difficulty by his father. And you understand his attachment to this company and why he got so angry when Prithviraj mocked it casually. We first think that it's just a joke but much later you understand the attachment that this man has to the company and that is why at first he was so irritated.
But some jokes don't land all that well. For example, the fact that Kalyani keeps making bad coffee or the fact that someone faints at the sight of blood. I had mixed feelings about the character played by Soubin Shahir. He's an event manager, he gets a terrific crack about camel biryani, but I was not sure if the character was really needed. And I felt the movie would have benefited, if it would have become shorter and a little tighter.
But Bro Daddy works. It works because of the script. It works because of the way it's been handled and because the cast works wonderfully. Mohanlal and Prithviraj share an amazing chemistry. There's a scene where Mohanlal says this is not my son. He's actually like my buddy and the chemistry actually comes through. The imagery and colour, bright and happy, just like in an ad film and bright and happy is how this film left.