Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Lens: You're not supposed to peep through

Emotions are basically the crux of an art form. Be it a painting, a poem, a stage play or even a movie, it is an in-depth emotion or a social value that will be delivering the message out of it . In recent times, the Tamil film industry has been witnessing a number of quality movies that have received a tremendous welcome from the audience despite of their low production cost.

However high could be the budget of a movie be and let it have mind blowing visual effects, but at the end of the day, the emotions and values that are harvested from the film is going to be the final take away. A best international example for this perception of mine is the 1997 Hollywood blockbuster 'Titanic'. There have been as many as 13 movies so far made and released based on journey of RMS Titanic. But, the only successful film was the one made by James Cameron in 1997. For this, the ultimate factor that had ignited the success of Cameron's Titanic was the universal emotion 'Love' that runs through the story line. One more example I could point out is James Bond movie Skyfall (2012), which is considered to the best James Bond movie ever and all is because of its emotional drama. Especially for the sequence, the greatest spy of all time, James Bond cries after losing 'M'.

In this row, I recently had a chance to watch the preview of a multi-lingual emotional drama, 'Lens' directed and starred by Jayaprakash. Having fetched five awards under various categories in several international film festival, Lens is about to hit the screens this summer 2017. With the original version filmed in English, this movie has been dubbed to Malayalam and Tamil now for theatrical release. From my experiences and impacts I personally felt, I have penned this spoiler free viewer's note.

Ideological aspect:

Its all about voyeurism in the rapidly evolving tech and internet savvy generation where the misuse of social media leads to fatal incidents. With a lot of movies that have already been made in this context, Lens stands out of the box and this is because, the complete run time of this hostage drama(kind-of) focuses only on the ideology it is about to deliver without a single evidence of commercial or irrelevant elements. Predominantly, the movie is just a long conversation between the two lead characters, despite that, it has delivered the ideology hitting the right chord. I should say that  if a pornography enthusiast watches 'Lens', it will at least let him think for a while before he watches an another video in the internet and that is going to be the success of this movie. Yes! it is going to induce the inner most hormone of guilt for every spectator.

Script aspect:

The story line of 'Lens' is not much complicated but it is not judgemental too. It carries a suspense element that is sowed in the very beginning of the conversation between the protagonist and the antagonist and its reaped only in the climax with a strong justification behind it. This pipeline of  justification is the screenplay of 'Lens'. Success is that, the element of suspense is so gripping till the end that, it leaves the spectators think "Why would he do all this to him alone?". The genre of the movie could not  be adjudged until the pre interval block as the movie starts like a kind-of techno  thriller, travels for some time like a psycho thriller. When the audience come to a conclusion of what the story is about, the movie breaks for an interval with a bunch of confusion and suspense. But, this  is clearly dealt in the latter part thus by conceiving the social message about social media.

Apart from this gripping screenplay and story line, the backbone of the script is the sharp and short dialogues. The dialogues affect audience so much that it overcomes a lot of  hurdles like mis-matching lip sink (as it is a dubbed movie) and close up shots, still reaches the heart with its actual meaning. Even Anandsami, one of the lead actors of the movie, post screening of the preview show told to reporters during backstage interaction that, Tamil dialogues are so fine than the other two versions which is mainly because of  the depth of the emotion we could touch through this language. I could list a couple of  dialogues that had impacted on me. Namely, the line in which Anandsami's character highlights the difference between a neighbour and a friend and another dialogue where he defines 'justice' in is point of view. Above all, the dialogue on how some fickle netizens molest a girl with their eyes.

Casting aspect:

The cast of  'Lens' is very minimal as the complete movie revolves around maximum of four characters. Of the four, only two characters take the major screen space. And these two roles are played by the director Jayaprakash and Anandsami. In this movie, Anand has a very peculiar role which would be well spoken among the film freaks for sometime in the near future. I should say, this would be a role that could be listed among the milestones in Anand's career next to the role he had did in the movie Varnajalam(2004). I wish, he should get more roles like this in coming days. One more underrated actor in the industry to join the club.

While, the role played by Aswathy Lal as a dumb innocent family girl is one awesome and an eyes filling one. Especially, the scene where she records her selfie video, this girl emotes the character with just eyes. On the other hand, Jayaprakash has struggled a bit to expose certain emotions like anxiety and shock. But, the dialogue delivery has become a very advantageous aspect of the role payed by him. While, Misha Goshal, who  has very less screen space has did justice to her role.

I found some glitches in the roles of all the cops in the movie. May be the actors who had did the roles could have did some more home work for the role

Technical aspects:

It is cinematographer Kathir's show all the way. He would have had to invest more efforts as most parts of the movie are shot indoor. The alternate dark and bright shades of the rooms where the two lead characters live conveys the depth of the content and carries the movie to next level. Apart from that, Kathir has some chances outdoor too. In these outdoor sequences he had captured the greenery of Munnar to portray the colourful side of the lead character in his past.

On the other hand, GV Prakash's background scores are so wound with the screenplay that it is not evident as a separate entity but the screen's fourth dimension. His music travels from the start of the movie along with the waving moods of the characters.

Meanwhile, editing has been done by three editors, who have stood as the supporting factor for the gripping screenplay. The director should have given the editors two sided constraints so that the pace of the screenplay has not exceeded the limit on either side - neither fast nor slow. In a real time pace.

Directorial and Production aspects:

Despite having struggled as an actor, Jayaprakash succeeds well as a director, that has shown 'Lens' as a movie with perfect social message. The gestures he has tried to convey in one layer of the movie with the pigeons and broken tea cup are so lively that it relates to the original story line in the main layer. Well, it has to be experienced by watching once again. Thanks to Vetrimaran and GV Prakash for pitching in to this project  and creating a large banner for an independent film maker's sensible work.


As  I said earlier in the synopsis, a film should carry a human emotion or a social value in its crux so that it has its effects on the audience for some more time after watching it. And Lens is one such movie which will happen to be factor for an individual to question oneself out of guilt.

- Santhosh Mathevan
Chennai, May 8, 2017

The above viewer's note is completely the perception of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only.

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