Until the release of Celluloid, the Malayalam feature directed by Kamal, not many people knew who J.C Daniel was and the hardship he had to go through to bring the first ever Malayalam movie to light.
The ADR (Additional dialogue recording) version of the biopic, ‘J.C Daniel’, named after the man himself, has been produced by Yogaraj Balasubramaniyam, under the banner Never Give Up Cinimax.
The movie pans across the story of J.C Daniel, an aspiring film maker’s dream to film the first ever Malayalam movie, Vigathakumaran (The Lost Child). Set in 1928, director Kamal ferries us through the infamous caste system and the narrow-mindedness of the people back then. The film digs through the traces of how the first silent cinema in Kerala was made and the plight of J.C Daniel who is forced to jump over the tall hurdles set by the upper class people in the society.
Prithviraj and Mamta Mohandas as J.C Daniel and his wife live in the characters they play and bring life to this ‘heart and soul’ touching movie. Actor Nanda, who has rendered his voice for Prithviraj in the ADR version, has done an excellent job behind the microphone enhancing the authenticity of the ‘feel good’ factor. Chandni plays P.K Rosy, the first ever actress of Malayalam Cinema, and pulls off a stunner with her substantial variety of emotions.
Jayavel Murugan, the ADR technology director of the film has been keen on matching the lip sync to their best possibility, thereby making sure the audiences get the feeling that they are watching a straight Tamil movie.
The witty and sarcastic one-liners against casteism and social discrimination at apt situations in the movie are undeniably laudable. It is always a blissful feeling to watch movies that are set in the past as it gives us an opportunity to view the settings of the old days – J.C Daniel does not fail to offer you a similar experience. The age old video camera and film roll and the little film making techniques of Dadasaheb Phalke that have been picturized in the movie do keep the watchers engrossed.
The songs Ammadi Naan and Kaatre Kaatre, composed by music director M. Jayachandran and penned by lyricist Pazhani Bharathi are heartwarming compositions that have been sung by Sithara, Sreeram and Vaikom Vijayalakshmi.
Madan Babu as P.U Chinnappa, Thalaivasal Vijay as Nataraja Mudaliar, Nandu Madhav as Dadasaheb Phalke, Siddique as Ramakrishna Iyer and Srinivasan as Chelangattu Gopalakrishnan play important supporting roles in the film and contribute to the mood of a perfect biopic.
When there is an avalanche of dubbed movies covering various other genres, J.C Daniel emerges out as a bold attempt by Yogaraj Balasubramaniyam to exhibit the life of the father of Malayalam cinema, who was actually a Tamilian.