With films like ‘Ekalavyan’, ‘Commissioner’ etc Shaji Kailas proved that he could manage to keep the viewer glued to the screen without resorting to technical gimmicks. With films like ‘Baba Kalyani’, ‘Chinthamani Kolacase’ and ‘The Tiger’, he proved that he could also make use of technical gimmicks and still deliver the same edge-of-the-seat kind of thrillers, which you’d love to watch. But now he seems to have developed some kind of an obsession for technical gimmicks, making him overlook other relevant aspects. That’s what his latest offering, ‘Red Chillies’ indicates.
Produced under the banner of Rejaputhra Visual Arts by M. Ranjith, ‘Red Chillies’ tells the story of OMR, who’s based out of Singapore and whose business empire spreads as far as Kochi, where he runs an FM radio station that offers tonnes of fun (“tonne kanakkinu fun!”). The main attraction of this radio station is a group of nine girls, the ‘Red Chillies’. These girls are a bubbly, raucous lot, always up to some prank or other.
OMR, who has grown rich and powerful, has lots of enemies, some of whom even dispatch professional killers to finish him off. On a New Year’s Eve, the Red Chillies go partying, violating traffic rules, disobeying police officers and dancing and singing at a posh bar. The next day, the city wakes up to the news that a youth, presumably a gigolo, has been found dead in the lodgings of the ‘Red Chillies’ girls, who are now absconding.
Just as the police begin the investigation, there comes another shocking piece of news. A group of workers who had been staging a round-the-clock protest in front of a factory have been run over and killed in the night. One among those killed is a senior activist and idealist by the name of Maani Varghese, who also happens to be the father of Stalin, the Superintendent of Police.
A group of senior Police Officers start the investigation and come to the conclusion that they were the ‘Red Chillies’ girls who were behind the killing of the workers, and that this was done at the behest of OMR because Maani Varghese had always been against him. The ‘Red Chillies’ girls are on the run and OMR decides to get involved too. From here the story takes off.
All the actors in the cast have done their roles well. But the film belongs to Mohanlal who looks stylish and smart as OMR and does full justice to the part, towering over the other performers. Thilakan as Maani Varghese, Biju Menon as Stalin, Siddique as Police Commissioner Vyasan, Ganesh Kumar and Vijayakumar as the other Police Officers in the group, Vijayaraghavan, Sukumari, Jagadeesh – all of them have done justice to their respective roles.
The first half of ‘Red Chillies’ is slick and fast, but the second half, starting with OMR arriving in Kochi, tends to drag a little, and the climax could have been a bit more impressive. The expectation built up in the first half of the film fizzles out in the second. The fast and frequent cuts, the punchy dialogues and the one-liners in English seem to have been put in simply for their sake, while the director and the scenarist seem to have overlooked the plot aspect.
The cinematographer and the editor have done a good job. The background score is composed well. But what could have made for a racy thriller somehow turns out to be just an average kind of flick, all style and not much substance. Having said that, Shaji Kailas still needs to be appreciated for taking the pain to make each and every shot technically perfect. ‘Red Chillies’ is a film that you ought to see at least once if you are a fan of Mohanlal and an admirer of Shaji Kailas movies.
Direction: Shaji Kailas
Production: Renjith Rejaputra