Review By : Movie Run Time : 2 hours 29 minutes Censor Rating : U

Production: SPE Films India Cast: Mamta Mohandas, Prakash Raj, Prithviraj, Wamiqa Gabbi Direction: Jenuse Mohammed Music: Shaan Rahman Cinematography: Abinandhan Ramanujam

The primary conceit of writer-director Januse Mohammed's 9 is about a comet upon entering the atmosphere leads to an electronic/electric shutdown for nine days. This concept has the makings of a wicked satire, but the maker decides to focus on a personal tale of equally intriguing opportunities, like how the obsession of an astrophysicist over the phenomenon leads to ghastly incidents in his household. 

The film follow astrophysicist Albert (played by Prithviraj), embarking on a scientific expedition along with his team of scientists as they entangle themselves in a series of spooky events when Albert chances upon a stranger, Ava during his first viewing of a comet. Accompanying Albert is his son Adam, played by master Alok.

The film starts with Albert's father accompanying him in a lunar eclipse. This scene may come across as inconsequential in due course of the film, but the initial portions ground the fable-like storytelling into reality. The first half invests attention to the minute details that results in much better surprises later, and the world building unfolds in a Shyamalan-esque manner, that is elaborate yet engaging. Hence a major portion of it does not happen at a breakneck speed.

The horror sequences are more thrilling in the second half as the stakes become higher and we begin rooting for them only at that point. The expository dialogue involving the comet in the early sequences are less complex and does not alienate the audience, full credits for the writer. The first half engages us with neatly staged and edited stretches, for instance, the stretch involving the supermarket on the eve of the phenomenon had a sense of a well made social commentary in it.

It is the second half that sucks us into the thrilling events as every setup finds its own resolve, like the burst of a buried landmine. The red herring unveils in front of us and when the deceptions become clear the film creates a race against time kind of situation. The film brilliantly uses light and shade to convey the mood of a situation (the film was shot by Abhinandan Ramanujan), for instance, a happy occasion like a father wishing his son a happy birthday is shot in a dimly lit interior, portraying the dysfunctional relationship between them.

Even the visual effects had a certain amount of believability in them. Wamiqa Gabbi's portrayal of Ava lends an eerie presence to the film and Master Alok is a revelation as Adam, as he conveys the desperation of the character with ease and excels even in the close-up shots, a quality that is found in experienced actors. After Koode, this film makes great use of Prithviraj's earnestness.

One wishes that the director had used more silence for us to be absorbed into the atmosphere of the film and Adam had a lot of scenes in the initial portions (the character of Adam feels a bit underwritten). But minor problems aside, what makes 9 work very well is the fact that the layers of sci-fi and horror are used to tell a story about unfocussed parenting, a universal theme that gives a deeper connection with the film.

Verdict: 9 - A spooky experimental mystery that raises questions about modern lifestyle. Must Watch!


3.25 5 ( 3.25 / 5.0 )




9 (aka) Nine

9 (aka) Nine is a Malayalam movie. Mamta Mohandas, Prakash Raj, Prithviraj, Wamiqa Gabbi are part of the cast of 9 (aka) Nine. The movie is directed by Jenuse Mohammed. Music is by Shaan Rahman. Production by SPE Films India, cinematography by Abinandhan Ramanujam.