Cast: Anoop Menon, Mamta Mohandas, Sreekumar, Baburaj, Zinil Zainuddin
Director: Althaf Rahman
Horror movies usually follow a pattern of narration. There will be a haunted place, a scary ghost who takes vengeance on people and, in the end, a saviour turns up to solve the puzzle. We rarely see a deviation from this sequence. Neeli is no different. It takes the same old route (except the haunted house) and sometimes derails from the track.
This horror-comedy is not scary. However, it makes you laugh at times, thanks to Baburaj’s portrayal of a ‘sympathetic’ thief and Anoop Menon’s funny paranormal investigator.
Neeli, a film that is set against the backdrop of the myth Kalliyankattu Neeli, narrates the story of Lekshmi (Mamta) and her daughter Thara. During the night of the village festival, an unfortunate incident occurs which puts Lekshmi and her daughter’s life in danger. A photographer (Zinil) and two thieves (Sreekumar, Baburaj) are somehow linked to this incident. As if destined, their paths cross with that of Reny (Anoop Menon), paranormal investigator. They are on the mission to solve it and Lekshmi joins them later. Neeli goes more or less in a predictable way.
The first half is given to establish the above mentioned characters. Though it is a significant part of the narration, it is done in a dull manner. It drags and makes connecting the dots a tedious process.
The arrival of Reny and his modus operandi in the second half are the interesting parts of Neeli. He has interesting ways to detect paranormal presence.
The art department of Neeli deserves a mention for setting up Reny’s working space and devices in an appealing manner. On the surface level, Reny will quickly remind you of Mohanlal’s Dr Sunny (Manichithrathazhu) and Sreekumar (Vismayathumbathu), but Reny has his own charm. And, Anoop has pulled it off well. Mamta Mohandas has done a neat performance as a single mother. There is one nice song in the film, but that does not add much to the story. Like all horror movies, Neeli too has scary dolls, eerie faces, dimming lights, quick moves of the ghost and those subtle yet scary cries of a child, to evoke fear. And, those cliched bangs while the investigator is nearing the ghost or the ghost arrives.
Neeli has some good moments, but it is not a novel attempt. The movie, to some extent, has shown justice to the comedy part, but not to the horror side. But then, if you are a faint-hearted person, you might find it ‘scary’.