Shyamaprasad knows his niche in Malayalam cinema. What he has in store, no other film maker has. The themes he opt for are universal, more inspired by world cinema than rooted in Malayali culture. While his shot-taking style screams his peculiar stamp, the dialogues paints sheer drama. Artist starring Fahadh Fazil and Ann Augustine is a shining entry in his enviable filmography. Following up to a slightly disappointing English, the film does paint a good picture!
The protagonist of the tale is Micheal (Fahadh Fazil) whole love for Gayatri (Ann Augustine) is second only to his passion – ART. The couple move in together much to their families’ dismay. The incidents that follow form the crux of Artist. The narrative is laced with just five to seven characters out of which only have roles to talk of. In typical Shyamaprasad style, the screenplay is smartly penned with a runtime of 1 hour 45 minutes with a handful of thoughtful dialogues and one mesmerizing statement song. Although the movie commences through a flashback it barely creates any sort of a lull as the director opts not to delve into unnecessary sub-plots. This slightly backfires at times as the story turns predictable occasionally. The drama takes the centrestage post Michael’s accident and the resultant blindness. The idea of creating a series of paintings under the name “Dreams in Prussian Blue” creates an aura of mystery which reminds you of the finest European fiction from previous centuries. Although it won’t be difficult for a normal viewer to guess what’s in store as the story moves forward, the conflict between the leads created by the writer (Shyamaprasad) makes it compelling.
The film approaches its finale and we tend to question Gayatri’s state of mind. Didn’t she anticipate the doom at the exhibition? Hence the ultimate confrontation doesn’t stand vindicated. Yet the climax manages to leaves you spellbound. More so with the drama it creates as the female lead walks away – with a thumping voiceover in the background.
Music score is subdued while the signature track, “Ilaveyil Viralukalal” by K. S. Chitra radiates sheer beauty. It wouldn’t be wrong if we rate the song as the best vocal track of 2013. The song seamlessly sets the mood of the film and the audience effortlessly sinks in. Kudos to Bijibal (effective background score as well) and Rafeek Ahmed for this simple yet effective number. Editing is top notch. In fact, more filmmakers should keep the runtime of their films lesser than 2 hours. There are no unnecessary songs sequences and side tracks that disturb the flow of the narrative. The cinematographer makes no bone to capture the beauty of the landscapes as well as the canvases with equal precision. The lighting, especially towards the last reel, is brilliant. Dialogues are less poetic than Shyamaprasad’s previous flicks but register a hammer-strong impact on the viewers. Production design is classy and real.
On the performances alley, Ann Augustine tops with an author-backed role. Yes, she plays the title character’s live-in partner but she has a tougher and meatier part than him. And boy, she nails it with élan. Well, as an actor she’s not someone who is known for her a histrionic skills but on the first solid chance to prove herself, Ann hits it out of the park with a studied, flawless act. You heart goes out to Gayatri as you truly feel the emotional turmoil she’s going through. Fahadh Fazil, though playing a slightly stereotypical role, is fantastic as the temperamental artist. His nuanced turn as Micheal compensates for the minute shortcomings in the way his role has been penned. The chemistry between the leads should be seen to be believed. Sreeram Ramachandran is adequate and believable in his rather straight-out-of-90s character.
All said and done, Shyamaprasad’s “Artist” is all what his fans wish to come out of his stable. An unconventional storyline, comfortably Indian-ized while staying true to his trademark style and laced with commendable performances. Though the writing could have been slightly better in places, “Artist” is certainly worth a watch or two for the fact that we could sense the director’s passion towards his craft in every single frame. Recommended!
Rating: ★★★ 1/2