There has always been a raging debate about whether one should entertain or convey a social message. It is rare that a director achieves a balance between the two.
Director M Mohanan tries to do the same with his new Malayalam film 916. He tries to wrap a lot of things in his tiny film, be it the anxieties of a single parent or the abuse of cell phones and internet by the young adults to whether a medical professional should consider himself as a money minting machines recouping the investment made for their education or use their talent to serve the society. And above all, how to achieve harmony in marital life. This is sure to drown the fun value in a film.
The story of this film revolves around Dr Hari (Anoop Menon), a physician in a hospital and father of a teenaged girl Malavika (Malavika Menon), who idolises him. He is proud that there is nothing hidden in their relationship and his daughter will not hide anything from him. He does not use a cell phone and his little girl does not even demand the same.
But things start to go awry once she meets Prashanth (Asif Ali). Her father comes to know that his daughter has started lying to him. So, he starts spying on her secretly, following her anxiously.
Hari shares this information with his friend and fellow doctor played by Mukesh. But his wise counsel does not help Hari even a bit. Things go out of control by the end of first half as Malavika goes missing.
The story credited to the director goes on a different tangent in the second half making it outright preachy and sermonising and least interesting from the viewers perspective, not only showing chatting on the Net and cell phones in bad light, it even targets the modern urban phenomenon of malls where youngsters go wayward.
Anoop Menon does his best to look convincing as the father of a teenager, and somehow succeeds (we just wish he had a solid ground to stand on). Asif Ali gets a mentor like character that is laced with humour. All other actors feel like walking through their parts.
On the whole, 916 ends up just being preachy at the cost of telling a good story.