"Hallo" is the call every Lal fan wanted to attend since the release of Udayananu Tharam in 2005. Not forgetting the fact that he had lots of memorable outings like Naran, Thanmathra, Vadakkumnathan, Keerthichakra etc.. during that era, but still the Mohanlal whom we saw in Priyadarshan's slapstick comedies in the late 80s to mid 90s was certainly missing. During this period his detractors rose to form, claiming Lal lost his old comic timing and will never return to that era. Well, "Hallo" will "disconnect" them forever.
A racy first half, soaked in light hearted humour, followed by a mediocre second half with lots of suspense and lack of thrill - that's the best way to describe Hallo with a one-liner. The movie opens with lots of promise showing the ringtone craze of today's mobile user. Jagathy's "Hallelujah" and SI Ganesh Kumar's "Phone Edukkada" ringtones were received by the audience with claps and whistle.
And then the much awaited intro of Mohanlal. The very scene showed Lal didn't loose his comic timing but was simply put on hold for the ideal script to arrive. The man who once used to bring smiles to our faces merely by the movement of his facial muscles has announced his return with a bang. A drunken role is a safe bet when donned by Mohanlal. The latest example is Hallo. Remember we saw another drunken role from the same actor just 3 months back in Chotta Mumbai. But you won't get a monotonous feel one bit. What a treat of a first half it was.
But second half suffers a major course change. Suddenly from humour, you are invited to be part of a murder mystery involving the heroine's family. And in true Agatha Christie style, every member in the family becomes a suspect. This is where the director-duo fails. From the beginning itself, their intention was clear - make a comic entertainer. If only they could extend it to the 2nd half, with mystery coming up at regular intervals, this movie would have had the chance to become a real blockbuster. Instead the movie shifts to a suspense thriller angle with less and less lighter moments. There wasn't much of a drag, but the way the mystery was handled lacked perfection. And finally when the identity of the killer is revealed, you won't feel shocked or surprised as you were more or less expecting one of them to be the culprit. Also the director duo desperately tried to employ visual cheating to try and fool the audience. Visual Cheating has been perfectly executed in movies like Yavanika and Crime File. But here again the directors failed as the cheating only helps to develop more confusion than mystery. All in all a lack luster second half.
Cast performances are top notch. Mohanlal has once again set the benchmark for other "want-to-do-comedy" superstars. Comic timing is a gift of God, which you can't substitute by slang comedy or illiterate role humour. For a practical experience, watch Hallo. Lal looks way younger than his recent outings. Debutant Parvathy Milton looks like a good match for Mohanlal. Though shot in a glamorous fashion, their romance in the rain in the song "Mazhavillin" was well received by the audience. Those who expected a lot from Lal - Jagathy combo would be disappointed. Although few in number, their combo scenes really rocked. When I first read about villain actors Bheeman Raghu, Sphadikam George and Keerikkadan Jose (Mohan Raj) turning into a comic trio, I expected slapstick buffoonery which would ultimately end up boring. But to my surprise, this trio rocked, along with Lal. The fight between the old generation "lungi-cladded" goondas and the new generation "coat-and-tie" cladded goondas was a treat to watch.
Every review I read, there was a much talked about "Ashokan - Hotel" sequence and so while watching the movie I was thinking how this scene would turn out. Believe me, it is the old Lal back in full glory. Ashokan comes back to big screen after a long time and this scene is hilarious from start to finish. Suraj Venjaramoodu's comic polic role was tailor made for him to shine. His encounter with Lal at the station where he asks "Ninakku Prayapoorthiyayo?" and Lal's reply "Randu thavanayayi" really brought the whole house down. Compared to Salim Kumar's previous outings with Rafi-Mec, his role might be short in Hallo. But whatever he got, he did his part well.
Siddique, with his shaven head, had this menacing look which was most suited for the role. The only miscast was Madhu Warrier and luckily he didn't have much of a screen time.
Altogether, Hallo's first half alone was worth the ticket. Second half, though disappointing for a suspense freak like myself, should entertain the more commoner who hardly watches Hollywood suspense thrillers.
Verdict :- Don't miss this call
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