Genius: A Dramatic Overkill
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Remember the saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’? Directed by Suseenthiran, Genius is a film that expands this phrase with an overdose of melodrama. By opting to tell you a tale based on the kind of overwhelming pressure children and adults meet with at home and work, it is clear that the director sets out with good intentions. But then, good intentions when not backed by interesting visual-storytelling led by great performers are bound to let you down. This is why you will find Genius to be a tedious piece of work no matter how many prominent flaws in filmmaking you choose to ignore.
Genius follows Dinesh Kumar (Roshan), a man who has a mental breakdown when he finds himself unable to cope up with the snowballing work pressure. A little sneak into his life tells us that his father is the reason behind Dinesh’s stress. From his childhood till today, Dinesh’s father is hell-bent on ensuring that he lays his concentration only on studies, work, and more work. Any talk of playing or an idea of taking a breather is thrown out the window. This stressful life opens him up to a disease that demands that he slow down. Whether or not Dinesh is able to break free from this pressurized bubble to find joy in the little things forms the crux of this tale.
By taking up and seeing through a film that leans towards being a social commentary rather than a feature film, director Suseenthiran joins the likes of director Samuthirakani in preaching rather perfecting the art of visual storytelling. Many films with social messages have succeeded, case in point director Shankar’s Anniyan. But the primary problem with Genius is the fact that it establishes verbally what it should’ve established visually. This kind of approach makes the film appear heavy, superficial and tiring.
The second pressing issue with Genius is the fact that it is too self-indulgent. Sure, commercial films do become indulgent every now and then, but each and every scene in Genius is drowned in sentiments and melodrama. Take, for instance, the relationship between Dinesh and his father. Just ten minutes into the flashback, it becomes clear to you that Dinesh’s father tortures him to study. But this is established over and again till he becomes a man. This kind of repetitive reestablishment becomes an overkill thereby taking away from the impact of the film.
As the film moves along, a track involving a villain is suddenly introduced. From the beginning, it is clear that this track is completely unnecessary in the larger scale of things. In fact, the way the villain enters the screenplay and the way the hero tackles him is utterly unconvincing.
Genius moves about swiftly and it has a reasonable run-time, with a little more clarity and with a lot less melodrama, this could’ve been a decent film. It could’ve been a great film if the director put more efforts to make Genius more realistic. How many films talk about the toxic work culture in the corporate arena these days? Finally, you get a director who decides to go for it but he lets you down with a screenplay that has melodrama that is equivalent to the cliched Tamil TV soaps these days. A subject as relevant as this needs to be realistic, relatable and much more sensitive for it to resonate with the audience.
As Dinesh Kumar, Roshan delivers an amateur performance. He tries hard to capture the essence of the character but fails due to his inability to hold close-ups in crucial scenes. From his superficial nuances to plastered emotions, it is clear that his skills need a lot more honing before he could call himself a seasoned actor. Aadukalam Naren, Jayakumar, and Singam Puli try to make up for the lead actor’s amateurity but their performances appear desperate because they end up trying too hard. Erode Mahesh, Dhaadi Balaji and Singam Puli try hard to make you laugh but their comedy in this film falls flat.
Cinematographer R.B Gurudev’s visual storytelling is in line with the director’s vision. But he does not have enough support from the director’s screenplay to push the envelope. Yuvan Shankar Raja’s music is sub-par. It doesn’t make significant contributions to the film but his one particular soundtrack titled ‘Neengalum Oorum’ is slightly interesting.
On the whole, Genius sets out with good intentions but good intentions alone cannot make a watchable film. Maybe with a watered down screenplay, better performances, and much more imagination, the film would’ve fared better.