Rajeev Ravi, Anurag Kashyap’s long time collaborator and cinematographer of Gulaal, Dev D, The Girl in Yellow Boots, Gangs of Wasseypur and Bombay Velvet, is back with a new dark, brooding film that Kashyap calls the best film he has seen this year along with Titli.
He’s not exaggerating. Because Malayalam film Njan Steve Lopez, that released all over the country with English subtitles on Friday, is a powerful portrait of rebellion with a cause. Steve Lopez, the son of a Deputy Superintendent of Police, is the face of that rebellion.
Like Udaan, this is a coming-of-RAGE film where characters grow up only to turn angry young men. Like Vikramaditya Motwane’s film, this too is a slap on the face of the system and patriarchy.
But Rajeev Ravi’s film is much darker.
It is not just his father’s ideals (here, the father stands for indifference and corruption) that he’s battling, he’s battling a world that’s become more dangerous and lawless.
Steve Lopez’s world used to be confined to emotions/emoticons springing out of his mobile phone screen. In the course of the film, he realises there’s a lot more happening outside that world that makes him question his very place in the world.
It’s a daring, disturbing film to make and full points to Ravi and the young newcomer Farhaan Faasil (Fahad’s younger brother and director Faasil’s son) to make this compelling little film that will force you into thinking. The kid is brilliant and makes a promising debut.
“My last film (Annayum Rasoolum) did well commercially. So there is a market but people are still reluctant. They like the old stuff,” Rajeev Ravi says when I call him after watching his film to find out what gave him the guts to do something as different as this and get it released around the country. “I’ve been around for 17 years. If I don’t do it now, when will I do? It’s better to do what you want to do to change things. The mainstream formula is not much of a challenge.”
Ravi needed this to let the angst out. “The previous generation was full of morons. They are the ones to be blamed for the decay in the system. They all compromised, fed corruption… There are no heroes around for the youth today. When we were in college, the very concept of commission used to be looked down upon. It was a bribe for enabling things. Today, taking a commission is a respectable deal. So we can’t blame the youngsters. We have trampled on their innocence and they have seen too much too early in life,” rants Ravi.
“In many cases, they have seen that their own father is corrupt. There are scams and scandals around. What are our young people looking at? There’s nothing to look forward to. The world has become so dirty,” he adds when I ask him about his desire to make this hard-hitting anti-establishment film.
Despite its length and indulgence, Njan Steve Lopez is a film that deserves to be watched on the big screen because it’s that relevant wake-up call that needs to work before it’s too late.