‘Solo’ review: devoid of soul or substance

11-10-2017

Beyond the packaging, and the brilliance of some of its elements, there is nothing really to write home about.

Pattern-spotting is one of the pastimes that one can indulge in, while watching anthology films. Bejoy Nambiar makes it easy for an audience looking for patterns and connecting threads in his four film anthology Solo. Dulquer Salman, the common factor in all films, plays characters with various names of Shiva — Shekhar, Trilok, Shiva and Rudra.

Each film tells the story through one element of nature — water, air, fire and earth (sky is missing). Each film is preceded by a short graphic of Shiva and a poem connected to one of these elements. For those keen on patterns, there are quite a few others, of accidents and of lost loves. But, sadly, in this film, the patterns are a mask, behind which lurks a body devoid of soul or substance.

It’s quite a tragedy, for some of its elements — for instance the music and the visuals — are worthy of being in a film that does not deal its chosen subjects in such a peripheral manner. Among the four short films, there are only two that at least manages to make a mark — the ones on Trilok and Shiva. The former has a thriller narrative, woven around two road accidents, with Dulquer playing the role of a veterinarian, recovering from the death of his wife.

‘Shiva’ is a familiar gangland story of bloodshed and revenge, which is saved only by a few sequences close to the climax. Dulquer plays the typical angry young man in this, having just one or two lines of dialogue to utter. The first film, in which a visually-challenged woman falls in love with a man with a stammer, had an interesting premise, but was spoiled by the dubbing and performances. In fact, weak dialogues, bad dubbing and performances are a common pattern for all the female leads in the four films.

The final film ‘Rudra’ is the most disastrous of the lot. Something which was conceived as a serious narrative, ends up being unintentionally funny. You have medieval rituals like two men indulging in a fist fight to win a girl’s hand, playing out in a most modern setting.

Bejoy Nambiar had quite a brilliant debut in Bollywood with Shaitan. But his second attempt, the bilingual David was almost a misadventure. Much of what plagued that film is repeated in Solo too. There is no lack of ambition, and experimentation, which is admirable. But beyond the packaging, and the brilliance of some of its elements, there is nothing really to write home about.

Listening to the entire soundtrack of the movie in a good headphone, with your eyes closed, can actually give you a better experience than watching Solo in a theatre.

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