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Review of Neymar the movie: boring and monotonous


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    “If you’re lucky, a dog will come into your life and change everything,” it is highly improbable for a day to pass without dog enthusiasts encountering or hearing this expression across various social media platforms. The veracity of this sentiment is unquestionable, given the longstanding recognition of dogs as humanity’s most loyal companions.

    Filmmakers too have demonstrated unwavering affection for their canine friends through the creation of movies that exclusively centred around them. The extensive list includes Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009), Hachikō Monogatari (1987), Old Yeller (1957), Lady and the Tramp (1955), Best in Show (2000), My Dog Tulip (2009), and Marley & Me (2008), as well as As Good as It Gets (1997), A Dog’s Purpose (2017), Belle and Sebastian (2013), A Man and His Dog (2008), Hoshi Mamoru Inu (2011), 10 Promises to My Dog (2008), and 777 Charlie (2022).

    Malayalam film Neymar, written and directed by debutant Sudhi Maddison, joins the ranks of these dog-centric movies. However, the question remains: Did the film succeed? Let’s find out.

    The movie commences with the introduction of two young individuals, Akamsh, also known as Kunjava (Mathew Thomas), and Sinto (Naslen K Gafoor). Their main objective revolves around capturing the attention of a girl in their locality, whom Akamsh has developed feelings for. Employing various small-scale tactics, they manage to succeed in grabbing her attention. Meanwhile, Sinto, the more astute of the duo, suggests that Akamsh get a dog since the girl is a dog lover. Acting upon this idea, Akamsh acquires an indie dog named Neymar, named after the ace Brazilian footballer.

    Initially, Neymar appears to be a calm dog, but it doesn’t take long for the duo to discover his mischievous side. Unaware of the consequences, Neymar’s actions begin to cause trouble in their area, leading the locals to develop animosity towards him. However, Akamsh, Sinto, their families, and neighbours gradually form a strong bond with Neymar, growing fond of him, with the exception of the patriarch of Akamsh’s household.

    Festive offer

    In the meantime, as the locals continue to voice their grievances, Akamsh’s father, Sahadevan (Shammi Thilakan), takes desperate measures. He bribes a local driver to transport Neymar to a distant place and leave him there. Devastated by this distressing news, Akamsh and Sinto embark on a quest to find Neymar, eventually discovering that he is currently in Puducherry (Pondicherry).

    Determined to rescue Neymar and bring him back home, the duo ventures to Puducherry. They soon learn that Neymar is under the custody of Ghabri, a local gangster, and his associates. It becomes apparent to the audience that Ghabri intends to use Neymar as a contender in the esteemed Charles Morat tournament, a competition that demands significant physical prowess from participating dogs. The remainder of the film revolves around Akamsh and Sinto’s efforts to save Neymar and return him to his home.

    Neymar undeniably takes the spotlight, serving as the film’s mesmerising allure. As an indie dog, Neymar’s presence brings a refreshing element to the narrative, distinct from the typical fancy or designer breeds. Neymar’s ethereal gazes, melodic whimpers, soul-stirring barks, and tender gestures of affection he bestows upon those surrounding him weave an exquisite tapestry of emotions, leaving viewers touched by its aesthetic beauty.

    Despite the fact that a simple glimpse of a dog has the power to elicit strong reactions, causing many individuals to become overwhelmed with joy or moved to tears, the first half of Neymar falls short of evoking any emotional response. Despite the film’s marketing as a dog-centred movie, a significant portion of the initial half disappointingly sidelines the dog and instead focuses on the human characters. The presence of several superfluous moments, coupled with poorly crafted dialogues that feel outdated, further hampers the impact of most scenes in the first half. As a result, viewers are left unaffected by these sequences, diminishing the intended emotional resonance.

    In contrast, the second half of the film takes a more captivating turn, presenting intriguing moments and introducing fresh characters and locales that are novel to Malayali audiences. However, even in this section, the extended duration of the film significantly impacts the viewing experience. The tendency among Malayalam filmmakers to retain almost everything they have shot without undergoing a stringent editing process has long been criticised, and unfortunately, the same rookie mistake is evident in Neymar as well.

    Although Mathew Thomas and Naslen K Gafoor successfully recreate their wonderful chemistry, the lack of standout moments showcasing their rapport makes it feel repetitive. It is essential for them to avoid the same pitfall as other actor duos, such as Biju Menon and Kunchacko Boban, or Jayasurya and Anoop Menon, who appeared together in a multitude of films, eventually leading to audience fatigue.

    It is imperative to put an end to the excessive reliance on the acting abilities of Shammi Thilakan and Vijayaraghavan. While they deliver commendable performances with the material provided, the scant work put into their characters — likely because it was thought they would make up for it with their performances — is indeed impeding their character journeys. Additionally, the practice of consistently offering director-turned-actor Johny Antony similar character roles with predictable trajectories in every movie must come to a halt. It’s not funny anymore.

    On the contrary, the supporting actors, including Yog Japee who played the role of Ghabri, manage to outshine the lead actors with their performances, showcasing a stark contrast in their execution.

    While Maddison has made an effort to do a good job, especially for a debutant, his intentions to produce an impenetrable film, which focuses more on the dog, his mischievous nature, the difficulties he encountered, and his skills than on the emotional connection the dog has with his buddies, seem to have failed.

    The primary obstacle that impedes the enjoyment of the film is the lacklustre script and dialogues. With a dearth of innovative elements until the final acts, the efforts made by Adarsh Sukumaran and Paulson Skaria to inject freshness towards the end prove ineffective, as the film has already become wearisome by then. However, it is commendable how they incorporated a dog competition set in a suburban backdrop.

    While Shaan Rahman’s songs do nothing for the movie, Gopi Sundar’s background score frequently detracts from the experience and grows grating. The efforts of cinematographer Alby Antony and editor Noufal Abdullah become futile as the film, unfortunately, fails to establish any connection with the audience on any level.

    In short, Neymar proves to be a squandered opportunity for Malayalam cinema, as it adds to the absence of any compelling pet-centric movies in the industry, and all that we have had till now are trash like Ring Master (2014).

    Neymar movie cast: Mathew Thomas, Naslen K Gafoor, Shammi Thilakan, Vijayaraghavan, Johny Antony, Yog Japee
    Neymar movie director: Sudhi Maddison
    Neymar movie rating: 1.5 stars

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