The Jis Joy way of filmmaking has never been a thoroughly satisfying experience for me. All his movies are basically about people being optimistic and coming out of struggle successfully. As a viewer, I used to feel that his films are overly glossy, and the level of optimism he tries to impart to each story is unrealistic and far too escapist. But looking at the box office numbers of his movies, I will have to admit that there is an audience for that kind of unreal optimism, and the latest film from Jis Joy, Mohan Kumar Fans, is one more in that zone of packaged “feel-good” entertainment. So if Sunday Holiday is your go-to stress buster, then Mohan Kumar Fans might well be your kind of feel-good comedy.
Thirty years ago, Mohan Kumar was a major name in Malayalam cinema. His movies did good business in the box office. But suddenly, when new stars like Mammootty and Mohanlal came to the scene, Mohan Kumar gradually vanished from the arena. The film Mohan Kumar Fans shows us the drama happening in Mohan Kumar’s life after the release of his comeback film, for which everyone is expecting him to get a national award.
You can’t really blame a movie for not being realistic. The tone of the narration is a director’s choice. But when your drama and characters are serious, the viewer would expect some level of coherence in writing. The major drawback of this script written by Jis Joy based on Bobby Sanjay’s story is that it is highly guessable, and at times it is trying to include too much of the feel-good elements into it. The incoherence in the screenplay is becoming extremely evident. It felt like the movie depended heavily on someone like Siddique to make the viewer forget how ordinary the idea sounds like. The way the movie approaches the whole concept of awards itself feels so bizarre. The way expectations are built around an award feels like there are no other film industries in India. The lack of conviction in building such scenarios in the story is where Mohan Kumar Fans fumbles. There is one risky plan and execution happening in the climax of Mohan Kumar Fans, which I now feel is why Bobby and Sanjay decided not to go to the screenwriting phase as it completely lacked conviction.
When you go back and think about the heroes of the era in which Mohanlal and Mammootty came to the scene, you would realize that there were many other heroes. So the idea here is very interesting and unique. But in fleshing out the idea into a moving script, Jis Joy followed a very typical way. As I said, Jis Joy has this philosophy he follows in every movie. I haven’t been a fan of that overly “be positive” philosophy because of how he spoonfeeds that through dialogues. Here also, he repeats his usual “helplessly irresponsible” hero character trait for creating conflict and drama. The problem is that if you replace Siddique with another actor in this movie, Mohan Kumar Fans would be a cringe-fest. Jis Joy wants to mock the social media obsession of the modern-day film stars, and the Aghosh Menon character was created only for that. This caricature aspect of the movie and the sentimental bits featuring Mohan Kumar was an awkward mix. The hero introduction scene has a priest saying stuff like, “if he is a good guy, his caste and religion don’t matter” Oh! Such a happy world. The music was really nice even though the reality show in the movie was far away from any sort of reality. Bahul Ramesh’s frames are trying to be pleasant, and even some of the movie’s intense moments have this flat and bright look. Maybe Jis Joy doesn’t want to step out of the feel-good zone, even in visual composition.
Kunchako Boban plays the role of Krishnanunni, a role that doesn’t really demand any specific set of acting skills. Debutant Anarkali Nazar doesn’t have much space to show her talent but manages to deliver a performance that would make us consider her a future prospect. Siddique as Mohan Kumar is the heart and soul of this movie. If I am writing this review with all these “if you have liked Sunday Holiday..” conditions, it is simply because of the earnest performance by him. The portrayal could cover up a lot of flaws in the script. Vinay Forrt is wasted in a caricature role that cant blend in with the script. Mukesh is in his typical style, and the part felt like an older version of his character from Udayananu Tharam.
There is a fan following for Jis Joy’s brand of “goodness” overloaded feel-good movies. If that filmmaking style has satisfied you as a viewer, then Mohan Kumar Fans will be a comfortable watch for you. And if you are someone like me who came out of Sunday Holiday feeling “what’s the big deal?”, then this will be yet another meh experience for you.
If Sunday Holiday is your go-to stress buster, then Mohan Kumar Fans might well be your kind of feel-good comedy.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended