Review: Alphonse Puthren's Gold shines, but loses its sheen in climax
The biggest draw of the Alphonse Puthren-directorial feature Gold is indeed the director himself, thanks to the seven-year hiatus between the hugely successful Premam and his third offering. Gold was expected to be slightly different from Puthren’s previous two Malayalam releases, Neram (2013) and Premam (2015), also because of Prithviraj leading the cast. But it’s amply clear that Puthren had his way, as Gold is an Alphonse Puthren film to the hilt.
Puthren’s previous two outings in Malayalam were basically Tamil films in Malayalam, essentially catering to Tamil sensibilities that would also appeal to Malayalis watching their share of Tamil films. Gold isn’t any different, but in today’s OTT age, where people care more about visual communication than anything else, it hardly matters. And in any case, people know what to expect from Puthren’s films by now.
Alphonse Puthren’s films are essentially made at the editing table, with musician Rajesh Murugesan by his side, infusing the dull passages and lags with slick BGMs and tight cuts. As long as the film is racy and keeps you hooked, it hardly matters whether the film caters to your inherently Malayali aesthetics and conditioning. And the film does deliver, till the underwhelming climax. The wafer-thin plot meant to be a comedy of errors probably demanded a Priyadarshan-esque culmination.
Gold was subject to multiple postponements after initially being slated for an Onam release, but whether it had anything to do with the climax letdown is unknown. What was meant to be a heist film with situational comedy ended without a punch, perhaps an indication of the maker’s confusion in how to treat it. And in an age when promotions and manufactured hype for films are as much part of the trade as anything else, Puthren has relied on word-of-mouth publicity as with Premam. Heck, there wasn’t even a trailer.
How Prithviraj blends with Puthren’s world of cinema was always intriguing, but the star takes to it like a duck to water. And there are the familiar slow-motion walks and fight sequences — Alphonse Puthren also takes over stunt choreography here — and Prithviraj gets to do a Jayan-inspired stunt, which he probably always wished to perform.
Many regulars in Puthren films feature in Gold, along with a host of veterans, some of them essaying minor parts. There is Baburaj as Civil Police Officer Rajesh Manjapra. Shammi Thilakan and Lalu Alex have longer parts. Nayanthara is cast in a part that doesn’t give her any scope to perform. You wait till the end to see if her casting is justified, only to conclude that she was desperate to associate herself with Puthren.
Of course, Puthren has cast the “Lady Superstar” with the film’s commercial prospects in Tamil Nadu in mind more than anything else. The cinematography is top-notch, and the film is located in and around Aluva, as with Premam. However, unlike the former, the shots of butterflies and ants end up as stock edits than symbolism.
Gold is more like Neram than Premam, although Puthren has managed to infuse more Malayali elements into the film. The first half holds out a lot of promise but things don’t fall into place as intended post-interval, as Puthren, who also scripted the film, seems confused about how to take it to a close. In fact, the film’s runtime could have been shortened from 165 to 150 minutes or even fewer.
There is a possibility that Prithviraj might have had a role in the way the film ended, especially in his role as producer, alongside Listin Stephen’s Magic Frames. If the cringe-fest that formed Premam’s first half getting redeemed towards the end is any indication, that possibility is even greater. The quibble in the climax apart, Gold should definitely strike gold at the box office. And the film is definitely watchable, especially for diehard Alphonse Puthren fans.