A Blog on Cinema

Review Roundup : Photographer


When we wrote the review of Naran we wrote that even though the story was of mediocre quality, we liked the screenplay and the characters Ranjan Pramod had created. In fact we saw the same skills in his previous movies as well. In his first directorial venture he seems to have faltered and given the viewers a movie which is difficult to comprehend. The reviews all agree that this could be one of the worst Mohanlal movies ever.

The Sify review is brutal

The film will not appeal to any section of the audience even to die-hard Mohanlal fans. No one can grasp what Ranjan Pramod was talking about and the film crawls at snail pace. Suddenly a new Mohanlal appearing and talking very similar to his comedy characters in Priyadarsan or Sathyan Anthikkad films in the 80’s is a attempt by the director to cash in on Mohanlal’s image.

And abruptly the story switches back to Dijo character who walks around in the forest like Zombie! The audience as well as Mohanlal does not know what’s going on here??? The director has no clue about the Muthanga incident, wild life photography and most important how to make a film!!! There is no semblance of either style or substance. The major fault is that Photographer lacks a script and whatever the director has tried to convey has no logic. It is an amateurish attempt by Ranjan.

The only saving grace is Azhagappan’s camera work which captures Wynad in a documentary style. And why was Saranya Bhagyaraj a part of the film? At one part of the film towards the long drawn out climax Mohanlal mumbles- “Etha Swapnam, Etha Satyam..? “ It is exactly the audience sentiments, and in a way succinctly sums up this embarrassingly bad film.

No two ways about it, Photographer is an unmitigated endurance test at 2 hours 25 minutes. That is if you dare to go!’s review

If you have the patience to sit through Ranjan Pramod’s directorial debut Photographer, you would finally ask yourself: ”Well! What was this film about?” That’s what you feel after seeing Photographer, perhaps the worst Mohanlal-starrer till date. It leaves you befuddled, thoroughly confused and totally exhausted.
The main problem with the film is that Ranjan, who himself scripted the film, faltered in the script department itself. Even the dialogues are unbearable at times. As for direction, the less said, the better. The acting department too falls flat. The director obviously didn’t pay much attention to that, perhaps taking it for granted that the presence of the superstar would ensure good acting. The fact is, even Mohanlal’s double role cannot salvage the film. The only saving grace is Azhagappan’s cinematography, which alone however, cannot attract people to the theatres. In short, Photographer is a film that will not appeal to any section of the Malayalam film viewing public and would better have not been made. It’s no doubt one of the most insufferable movies made in Malayalam in recent times

Paresh Palicha writes

Does speaking to butterflies and elephants before taking their pictures or having long winding sequences without any consequence make for sensible cinema? That is the question on one’s mind while watching Ranjan Pramod’s directorial debut, Photographer. It is not as if we are questioning the sensibility of one of the most successful writers in Malayalam cinema today. But here he has lost it, trying to do too many things at once.
It is difficult to keep track of the narrative as it keeps swinging from one end to another. In between all of this, an identical sibling of Dino pops up, further deepening the confusion. Film and confusion go on unendingly. There are three or four occasions where we feel the climax may be near, but it goes on and on. It’s like watching the director’s cut of a film where nothing shot is left out or snipped at the editing table.
Poor Mohanlal cannot do much to salvage this project. He looks sincere and intense in the beginning, but his performance loses steam as the film heads nowhere. Even the second role offers him nothing substantial.


  1. Mohan Lal in a double role has always been a jinx in the industry… It seems the story continues..

  2. So even Prophet Mohammed could not save this film.

  3. Here’s the case of another Producer who never seems to have learnt his lessons. Howly Potture – an NRI producer – who produced Kamal’s Manjupoloru Penkutti, Kamal’s Rappakal and now this – all bombed and he has lost his life’s savings

  4. What was the two time national award winner thinking when he signed up for this? Ultimately people will blame actors – Mohanlal’s movie flopped, no one will say Howly pottur’s movie flopped.

  5. They (Both Ms) should understand at least now, that only they could save the industry from ruins. If they accept whatever comes their way, thinking something will click, they will create a vacuum in the field in the future which is very close. They should work like Kamal, Rajani duo supporting the younger generation rather than taking their roles. The directors and scriptwriters are mostly useless in Kerala barring a few, trying only to get dates of the stars rather than working on scrip for months together and create characters that are close to life. Even after this the number of moves are dwindling every year. The situation is going like Indian Cricket team. The failure is a main part rather than success rates. Two of the last two Mohan Lal’s movies flopped, why he should think.
    They should use their amazing initial crowd pulling capacity to the betterment of Malayalam Industry by selecting good movies of Hariharan, etc, restricting to 3-4 movies an year and banking on Festivals.
    The confidence level of the entire Malyalam Industry guys is at its nadir. We can think of remaking old Malayalam classics corrected to the modern era.

  6. Hows Johnson’s music?

  7. “Hows Johnson’s music?”

    No offense Thulasi but ….. does it really matter?

  8. Hi, Did u all hear the cd of photographer. I am a great Johnson fan and was waiting for his music. I am very satisfied on hearing 3 songs namely “emthe kannanu’ ‘Chandrika Raavu’ and ‘Kadalolam’.

  9. Seen the movie Photographer. Though the film is not off the category of an ‘Adipoly’ for Lal fans it is in the genre of some good movies. The only problems are that it lacks a Telugu model storyline and a little dragging and the love between the Photographer and the poor looking Kannada lady. Otherwise the movie is watch able, though not must see like Classmates, Tanmatra, Kazhcha, etc. The rejection of Photographer and marginal acceptance of the Buffoonery movies or the Third rated movies like Mahasamudram, Pothenvava, Thuruppugulan, CID Moosa, Bhargavan etc. lead to some interesting facts of the state of affairs of once great Malayalam Film Industry.
    First and foremost is the fall in standard of the Kerala moviegoer’s preference and the type of movies that run now. Even a great movie like Thanmatra was not accepted initially, though it succeeded to certain extend, by full-fledged media support. The 2 Ms are gradually falling in to the trap laid by them only. They are just interested in accepting anything comes their way, without looking in to the contends. This leads to movies like what mentioned above but a repeat of the same types repel public out of the Theaters. Why people should take pain to go and watch such movies in the type of theaters available now a days. Even if the fans of the stars watch the movies 10 times like the case of Taradas or Gulan, now Pothenvava or Samudram the end result is loss for the producer. AS Pritviraj boldly commented in Nana, the Great actors should concentrate on good movies than merely working for some lifeless characters and bring back the good memories of their great movies of 80’s and 90’s. They should use their amazing crowd pulling capacity in a better way.
    In those days the tinsel world of Tamil and Telugu enviably watched the type of movies came from Kerala and the roles played by Mammokka and Lal. The Cycle has changed, Tamil is generating some good movies that suit the present generation and our Youngsters go for it. Now in Kerala, since everyone is running after quick bucks it become easy for any Director like Johny Antony, Joshy, IV Sasi etc. to make a third rated stuff using the Great Crowd pulling capacity of the two, declaring as a Mega hit in the first day itself and later disappears from the field making loss to the Producer. As an ardent follower of Malayalam movies for the past 40 years, it is request to both the Ms and the grand old directors and some new rotten stuff landed just now (CID Moosa, Kchi Rajavu, Gulan, Mahasamudram etc.) make use of your power for the betterment of the Industry. Adaptation from Old classics, forgetting silly ego will make good movies like Vazhvemayam, Anubhavangal Paalichakal, Mooladhanan, Adimakal, Asuravithu, Murapennu etc.(the list is end less).
    Raphel Lazar

  10. Raphael’s comment is the only positive report I heard about photographer. So you’re implying that it’s because of lowered standard of viewers that wonderful movies like Photographer are bombing, not because it’s a bad movie. I wish you are right!!!

  11. I didn’t say it is a great movie. But,we always expect some fireworks from Lal, which dissapoints everyone. If the audiance of 1990s are same now, movies like this, Akale, Daivanamathil, Danny, Padam onnuu etc would have made some recovery. Instead we get worse and miscast star movies like Gulan, Taradas, Pandipada, Pathaka, Don etc. That is the point

  12. I saw the film. It has lot of has good storyline and screenplay. Mohanlal’s ,old lady’s and the adivasi boy’s performance is note worthy.Lot of fresh faces have acted in the film for the first time.commendable by johnson is excellent.particularly ente kannan and kadalolm are my personal favourite.The message he wanted to convey was clear when he says who are we to disturb nature?

  13. I had wanted to see the movie ever since I read the reviews. Every review was brutal.

    I think the reviewers were too hasty. This is not a Mohanlal fan’s movie. But if you are a lover of good cinema, you should watch it. I’m not good at analyzing movies. I will not say if this is a good or bad movie because I haven’t decided myself. It certainly wasn’t an endurance test for me. It’s pace is similar to European arthouse movies, although it cannot be put into that category.

    It is an admirable effort by Ranjan Pramod. I’ve heard that he is primarily a scenarist. The movie is an ode to nature. The protagonist is the forest. The family story of Dijo is a distraction. Ranjan should have focused his story on the adivasis. Maybe he wanted to avoid creating too much controversy in his debut movie.

    On the day of the movie’s release apparently it was Mohanlal fans who broke chairs and created a big hullabaloo. They did not get what they expected from their Lalettan. I too am a huge Mohanlal fan. But to me, he’s an actor. Not a star. I’m glad that he had the courage to do such a role. The character is very down to earth, and Mohanlal plays it perfectly. The twin brother character was a mistake on Ranjan’s part.

    I liked the movie because it made me think, left me unsettled, and it did not follow any cinematic conventions — arthouse or commercial.

  14. Photographer has its moments,there were some good character portrayals and some good dialogues too.But in overall the film lacks an aim it has no point to speak about.Though the theme was good and currentky relevent the writer/director ramjan pramod couldnot make a film out of it.

    Well Ranjan need not be disappointed ,his first script Randam bhavam was a disaster at box office but later he made some good and hit films like Meesha madhavan,Manasinnakkare,Naran etc
    so i hope that he would repeat it in his Directorial career too.

  15. A good film does not have to have a “point”. Most movies by the greats of cinema, i.e, Godard, Felini, Bergman, etc, don’t have a point. That is not the yardstick for good cinema.

    I would like to stress that I am not an experienced movie critic to judge whether or not “Photographer” is a good movie. However, I believe that Ranjan knows good cinema. He is a promising filmmaker. “Photographer” shows promise, and the box office failure does not mean anything as far as his talent is concerned.

    If I had the money to produce a movie, I would finance his projects.

  16. I thought Randam Bhavam had a great script – it explored the ‘twins-in-cinema’ phenomenon without resporting to the usual cliches. I also thought Gopi did a pretty decent job in the movie. Plus the song ‘Marannittum Enthino’ is one of fav’ numbers – picturized beautifully.

    Didnt know tht Photographer-Randam Bhavam connection – thx Visakh!

  17. recently i had a chance to see photographer movie directed by Mr.Ranjan Pramod. The movie is beautifully taken, the forest, innocent people in wayanad, the waterfalls, place where mohanlal sleeps and a big snake goes near him and around the tree. The silent movie made me so attractive thank God no bang bang music in between. the real sound of forest is present in each and every frame. mohanlal has given his best performance. even though the movie was not liked by all, there are people who really praised this movie and credit goes to Mr.Pramod Ranjan. the small boy ‘thami’ is so innocent and for his trust worthing act, he got an award. All the Best. people should watch these types of movies where the real superstar mohanlal has given his best contribution. the last scene where they unite is something beyond imagination and no words for it to describe – wonderful. the songs are mind blowing with a touch of classical tunes. the heroine is worth and so calm minded with a smiling and half mind of sadness. Good. All the best to Mr.Ranjan Pramod for giving a movie for viewers. there are still people for such movies. mohanlal has put so much efforts in forests scenes – great. always lal is lal no one can beat his wonderful performances. Good Luck.


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  20. The problem with this film was
    that it was hyped as a big commercial film,
    along the lines of “Naran” or “Meesha Madhavan”.

    Pramod, who seems to be a big movie buff,
    probably combined both the art-house and commercial
    ingredients together for some reason.

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