This wine is not that powerful as a thriller even with its moments of suspense, as the killer is kind of known right from the beginning itself – there is still a possiblity of expecting more twists over twists, but there is none in the end. The movie progresses slowly, unlike the traditional thrill infected flicks. Still, it has a beautiful philosophical touch and an embedded social message. The movie is surely worth watching for the performance of the leading actors, especially Fahadh Fazil & Mohanlal. There seems to be no stopping the former from his awesomeness and the latter proves why he is still considered to be at his best. The support cast has also been significant. A routine investigation movie is told in a different way this time. It is supported by another experimentation with its narratives without losing its simplicity and the path towards goodness. This can be hailed not for the chills and thrills, but for those who can make a philosopher’s stone out of the darkest and the dirtiest of metals, this might be something else.
Mohanlal’s Assistant Commissioner of Police reminds more of the cop from Grandmaster than anything else. This time, the police officer is even more philosophical. He is not a person who look for action all the time, but a slow and steady officer who understands both the victim and the murderer, and knows with ease that both are the victims of circumstances, one of his own ideals of truth, justice and equality which is despised by the land mafia, while the other of his evil past and the need to pay off his loans. He understands the complicated human minds just as the Wayanad’s twists and turns on the way up. The movie is shot at Wayanad and Kozhikode, and the stories of the subaltern of the heights of Wayanad and that of the opposite side of the evil from civilized world also creeps in. This is where Mohanlal’s character has his magnificience – to balance the characters from both sides, pure good, righteous good, forced evil and pure evil, all of them making frequent appearances as significant parts of the movie at parts. He understands the two men he is searching for, as well as the ones he is not directly searching for, as he progresses through his investigation.
Fahadh Fazil carries the movie with such an ease which makes the whole movie a simple, poetic experience. This is very unlike his performances in his recent flicks – there is no strangeness like in Annayum Rasoolum, Chappa Kurisu and Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla; there is no shades of darkness or even greyness as in 22 Female Kottayam; or that confusion and uncertainty of life as in Diamond Necklace and Friday. Here, we have a good man, of only good intentions towards the fellow humans, and with the desire to do good to the society and his people. He is an Engineering graduate who passed out of college with good marks and was good enough to get a fine job with an attractive salary at home or abroad. But he chooses to work for his people as the Local committee secretary for the left. His portrayal of the victim Anoop has given the audience his most lovable character ever; that is one character on the side of pure, unadulterated political man who stands between the modern and the traditional world, having the elements of both, in such a way that he stands between the two, understanding and interpreting both with significant ease.
As the movie revolves around the life of three characters, one can’t avoid not fail to sympathize on the third important character, played by Asif Ali. Even as he is the least likable of the three and has less time on the screen, Ramesh is a character of circumstances. He is not someone who is a remorseless man of pure evil like Django. He is not for the depths of hell nor the upper most of firmament. His life is not to be seen separate from his wife Deepthi, played by Mia George. Both of them blends into their characters well enough, and more of the sad situation is conveyed more through their looks and expressions rather than the words. This is that part of the story which is more touching in terms of a common man. Ramesh is a man with an evil past, who has turned good after marrying his lover who is from a rich family, which has lead to their isolation from their relatives. Now, as Ramesh has taken loans over loans, this is his moment where he has to choose between the good which is poverty and the lack of provisions for his family which would soon include a newborn child, as well as the evil which is security of good life for his loved ones. There is choices for him to make and whatever choice he makes, there would be a payment in blood or cash.
Well, the human life itself is like that road to Wayanad, and all these characters fit into those twists and turns. For some of them, death might be the relief and for the others, life is all that matters. Where heaven and hell fits in between them is a matter of debate, in the life which is mixed with so much of good and evil. The strength of the movie is still its cast and their performances. Meera Nandan, Meghna Raj and Kailash comes in smaller roles, as a skilled drama actress, an RDO and a cyber cell officer respectively. Meanwhile, Saiju Kurup comes up with an inspiring performance as the protagonist’s friend Navas. The debutant Maria John and Anusree also fits in, as the lover and the best friend of the protagonist. Suraj Venjaramoodu has a more serious role to play in this one, as the one who benefit the most with the protagonist’s death, a person with hidden agendas, another suspect for the investigating officer. T. G. Ravi has another lovable character, a righteous socialist worker of the party who earns the respect of the viewers right from the beginning. Still, the one who steals the show is Fahadh Fazil, and he seems to do that with such an ease that surprises the audience.
The way in which the movie is narrated gives it more life in spite of it being slow and ordinary in the first look. There is regular breaking of narratives, not in space, but in time – from the death of the protagonist to the life of another man to the progress of the investigation and then back to the protagonist’s ideologies during his lifetime. The space changes, but is still confined to Wayanad and Kozhikode. The movement is like wine poured out of the bottle, some of it which goes into the bottle, some of it to the floor, a little of it in the table and the remaining in the bottle. This is the philosophy of life, for not all can be the same, physically, intellectually, or spiritually. To be frank, the choice to go for this one ahead of 3 Dots and Amen was a big move. It was more for the love of the title and the image of the red wine in the bottle. No, it won’t replace the everlasting image of tea as the elixir of life, nor does it make a substitute for blood. The question would be about what the red wine symbolize and why is it the title of the movie. I have always been interested in the colour, my third favourite after black and blue. It is the colour of blood; that of all the martyrs and saints who died for the mankind. It was also used in the Roman and the Byzantine Empires, such was its honour. What about St George’s Cross and the Red Cross?
The human life has always been full of the colour red, also associated with, revolution, love, socialism, communism, passion, beauty. Lets leave its negative associations for this instance, for this one is everything except pessimism. The red wine itself is a symbol of humanity and their blood in a glass. Does this also symbolize the sacramental wine, the blood of Jesus Christ, for the blood of a modern age revolutionary which was to be shed? They were shown drinking the red wine and they were also shown talking about Christ being the revolutionary, and therefore this chance is surely there. The Red Wine is no Spirit; for it doesn’t glorify drinking or anything in the first half and oppose it in the second half; it sticks to its points – of humanity, right from the beginning to the end, for the red wine symbolizes the blood of a young, educated revolutionary which was shed as he stood for the righteousness. That makes a valid allusion and a wonderful imagery. Red Wine is not your typical murder mystery, for it is a philosophy; not a psychological thriller; never a supernatural thriller, as this one is of another genre and I would like to call it a philosophical thriller. If this was more powerful as a regular thriller, and if it could have conveyed the philosophy better, the movie would have been awesome, for sure.
Release date: 21st March 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Salam Bappu
Starring: Mohanlal, Fahadh Fazil, Asif Ali, Saiju Kurup, Jayaprakash, Mia George, Meghana Raj, Anusree, Maria John, Meera Nandan, T. G. Ravi, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Kailash, Anoop Chandran
@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.