People howled on a scene in director Kamal’s new film Celluloid where J C Daniel describes the story of his Vigathakumaran to his leading lady Rosamma aka Rosi. I felt really bad for them as most of commercial masala’s are still following the same pattern and these people were clapping for those. Celluloid is the story of the man who literally lived and died for cinema who was lately honored as the father of Malayalam cinema – J C Daniel.

The film is a journey through the various phases of Daniels adult hood. His efforts to learn about cinema, his attempts to make cinema from the limited knowledge he could acquire at that time, the way he made the cinema, the problems he had to face because of the orthodox mindsets who were driven by the pathetic cast system that denied privileges to the lower cast and the disaster outcome that he had to phase and carry on throughout his life is the soul of this fitting tribute made by Kamal.

The movie mainly scores for its research. The amount of details that they have collected and the way they incorporated them in the script is really impressive. The first half is a straight forward narrative on the making of Vigathakumaran and the second half is presented through the eyes of the well known cine journalist Chelangatt Gopalakrishnan. Really loved the scene were they included Vayalar in the movie and it also kind of shows the world that good souls had tried to help the deserving but some upper cast complex took the credit away.

On screen, I think this is indeed Prithviraj’s career best and the scene where Daniel takes his last breath is the best performance of Prithviraj I have scene. His voice modulation in the old ages and the body language as the son of J C Daniel deserves special mention. Mamtha Mohandas at the same time surprised me big time with a really good performance in her own dubbing. Reality show fame Chandni did her part very neatly with no major hiccups. Sreenivasan showed his class in portraying the role of Chelangatt Gopalakrishnan. T G Ravi amazes with one single scene while his son Sreejith Ravi impresses us in the younger version of the same character. I must say that the casting of the Ravi family is a smart one from Kamal. The actor who played the role of Johnson was also impressive. Lots of small roles are there in the film for veteran actors and they have done their part with required perfection.

In the technical side, hats off to Kamal for working on the movie and it really show on screen. Compared to his last few outings this one stands way ahead. The scene that shows the last moments of J C Daniel is indeed a directorsScript is nicely paced. It is constructed with less complication and at the same time manages to include facts. Cinematography is quite conventional type. VFX department was a bit awkward at moments. The scene were the old Daniel travels along with Chelangatt Gopalakrishnan had a good feel in the front view but was awkward in the side view. Music of M Jayachandran is really a plus and the songs have been included nicely. The real star in the technical team will be Pattanam Rasheed the makeup master. The looks of Prithvi and Mamtha were done with absolute perfection. The art direction was also really good especially in showcasing the old times.

On the whole, Celluloid is a must watch for those who admire films. Without this man the history could have been different. Just like his son did in the movie, we should all apologies to that passionate film maker who made this possible from the scratch. I am a passionate lover of cinema and I just can resist  myself from giving this movie a  4/5. Salute and tribute to the uncrowned king.

Final Thoughts


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.

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