Boy meets girl virtually
What does a young man who is single and has a bit of time to contemplate about the direction of his life? Of course, like anyone he searches for a mate. A woman of his choice or someone who suit his range. With dating apps getting popular even in smaller towns, a youngster in a foreign country using it is no surprise. Jimmy is our typical Malayali youngster. Meaning: he has a job in gulf and is earning his own.
Jimmy meets Anumol in a dating app. He right swipes her and she approves his connection. Now both of them are connected. All this is shown in the form of communication screens which is innovative and for those who have a better idea some of the cinematography and picturisation techniques are inspired from the movie Searching. This also grabs our attention right from the go just like the 'messenger stories' we come across in Facebook.
The communication progresses into friendship which later results in video chats. And we all know if the two characters are protagonists, it's time for them to meet in real world. Soon we see them living with each other. Jimmy also plans a video call to his family so that he could propose Anu (as we cannot speak more than two syllables, Anumol - 4 syllables - becomes Anu quickly) in front of them. All this is realistically set up in a precise manner within less than 30 minutes.
Girl disappears into thin air
Then the focus shifts to the intriguing part. When everything seems to be going smooth for them, Anu goes missing leaving a video for Jimmy saying it’s her last video. Enter police on cue and arrest Jimmy as he's the prime suspect. With no choice left, and to save his cousin, a cyber security expert named Kevin Thomas gets into act. He's a terrific hacker to boot with. As he's played by Fahaadh Faasil, he's darkly charismatic. It is his journey through the virtual world where Anu leaves a path of dark secrets. In a shocking turn, he also discovers data related to his cousin's dark secrets.
Mahesh Narayanan's craft
Take Off director Mahesh Narayanan has done a splendid job of the subject. His use of experimental concepts of technology to tell a hard-hitting socially relevant story inspired by shocking real-life incidents such as trafficking and invasion of privacy. The film is virtually set in two countries. And it is mainly told through three characters who keep you glued to the screens with their dark but enchantic screen personalities. It is only through the words they use that we mostly get a grip of their characters.
Mahesh proved himself to be a master storyteller with Take Off. His mastery is further evident here from how he keeps the audience guessing throughout the entire length of the film. An intensive experiment tackling an intense subject. We get a new term coined - virtual cinematographer - and it is Mahesh Narayanan.
Blissfully he doesn’t get too caught up with using all aspects of technology that he could have at his disposal. He keeps it minimal instead, while focusing on letting the story unfold one digital screen by another. Despite being a screen-based film that is shot mostly indoors, the actors and the way the scenes are filmed add to the tension-filled atmosphere that keep the viewer’s attention tightly.
Mahesh Narayanan has adapted the style and syntax of the film Searching by Aneesh Chaganty as this is a nearly novel method to tell a story on screen. But this is completely different. This movie is completely set in the virtual space. The screenplay is superb. The way the movie is paced is exemplary. Mahesh Narayanan has delivered a gem despite the many restrictions of the lockdown. It's a summation of creativity.
He has deviated from the core story a few times but that's just to give a breather to the audience. Else, it's relentlessly intense. The editing is crisp as the tight narration asserts. The filmmaker himself is the editor and as any good film has, editing (which took about 8 weeks - filming took only 18 days) and narration went hand in hand. Sabin Uralikandy cinematography is dark and beautiful.
Darshana Rajendra is sombre in her role and is equally vulnerable sometimes. Roshan Matthew once again delivers a punchy performance within the scope of the character. As this film is marketed on the star power of Fahaadh Faasil, do we still need to talk about his performance? All right, he's frighteningly good.
As this is an entirely new sub genre of thrillers, and is not experienced by many, we're not going to talk about other technicalities as we wang the audience to experience all these fresh without the interference of external factors. Just turn on the screen of your favorite devices, open the OTT, and watch this film. Bam!