There were people walking out, people blabbering and commenting throughout the film Iblis. I went in after knowing that Iblis was a fantasy film and came out as a pretty satisfied viewer and at the same time I felt disappointed at the way a section of the audience was resisting to surrender to the genre. This is Rohith VS’ second film after the sleeper hit Adventures of Omanakkuttan and I must say that he is shaping up to be an original filmmaker with signature stories.
Telling you the synopsis of Iblis is a difficult task for me as it won’t make much sense if I won’t tell you the whole story. The backdrop is an imaginary landscape where we have our hero Vaishakan who plays songs at funerals. He has a grandfather who adores him and then there is Fida who is the love of his life. Revolving around the love story of Vaishakan and Fida, Iblis is a fairy tale fantasy that explores the concept of death in an interesting way.
Remember the magical realism in Amen? The treatment here would remind you of that at many points. Rohith is inspired by similar films and many other movies. That entire scene where Vaishakan describes Jabbar’s Jin story, you can clearly see the influence of Michael Pena’s Ant-Man monologue. Cinema is an inspired craft and placing these ideas inside the story one wants to say is smartness in my opinion. There is a kind of eccentricity to the tone of the screenplay and to understand or feel that you as a viewer will have to surrender to that idea of this movie being a fantasy. There are smaller details in the movie and perspectives about our concepts about death in this imaginary scenario of the dead vs alive which looks really appealing.
Asif Ali has that flexibility to be the naïve Vaishakan. Maintaining the innocence without making it look like a caricature was the requirement and he has done that neatly. Madonna Sebastian looks beautiful and she also shares the same amount of naivety to be that leading lady. Lal in that look is a convincing choice to play Sreedharan, the sarkeet grandfather. Adhish Praveen as Musthafa wasn’t having the usual hiccups one see in child actors. Even though he has only a few scenes, Siddique was hilarious. Saiju Kurup, Sreenath Bhasi and several other actors including a small cameo by Aju Varghese are there in the movie.
Off late Adventures of Omanakuttan has garnered a lot of fans and even I had liked it in parts. The main disadvantage for Omanakkuttan was that it was way too long for us to get invested in it. But when it comes to Iblis Rohith has managed to keep things tidy and peppy. He isn’t trying to bend it to a conventional way. It might look like a movie for the kids, but if you can have a little more patience to analyze the way the movie addresses certain life lessons, it might work for elderly people too. There are certain fourth wall breaking statements in the film along with some mysterious elements like the character played by Sreenath Bhasi. Having said all this, Iblis isn’t devoid of flaws. And a major one, in my opinion, was its inability to construct the whole Fida chapter in the end in a more detailed or layered way. On the first watch, I felt that it was a bit too hurried or straightforward approach. If the romance and the way Fida gets enlightened towards the end were captured more effectively, things would have been better. The visuals are beautiful and quirky. The music was nice and the background score reminded me of the works of Prashant Pillai.
Iblis is a brave and novel attempt that managed to get a place in my heart. It is a slightly outrageous experiment that has flaws. But if you can understand the fact that it is a fantasy film, it becomes a lot more enjoyable. With just two hours of runtime, I feel that this movie has the potential to have a great connect with kids.
Iblis is a brave and novel attempt that managed to get a place in my heart. It is a slightly outrageous experiment that has flaws.