Neerali in Malayalam means Octopus, and the title is an apt one for Superstar Mohanlal's first release of 2018 as the film tells the story of Sunny George (Mohanlal) who hangs on to life like an Octopus. While traveling from Bangalore to Kozhikode along with a coworker/driver Veerappan (Suraj) to be with Sunny's wife who has just gone into labour, the vehicle Sunny is traveling in, goes out of control down a slope to end up hanging on a cliff, balancing on a tree. Neerali is a nonlinear depiction interconnecting Sunny's life and the thrilling moments after the accident. Will Sunny and Veerappan escape from an inevitable death is the question that induces curiosity in the viewer.
Malayalam industry has not seen a movie of this genre lately, with the central character trapped at a place. The basic thread has possibilities to include aspects like survival techniques, positive attitude, sensibility, etc, which are qualities one should possess to successfully retrieve oneself from any dreadful situation. There are some scenes in Neerali which are really good and succeed in giving goosebumps to the audience. But the screenplay has many negative points like characters who lack conviction, lag, flatness, a parallel story. A better-worked screenplay deprived of loopholes, cliches, and lifeless scenes would have resulted in a movie, which the story deserved. The key points in the screenplay were good, but the characters chosen to do them could have been picked wisely.
Mohanlal's performance is superb as usual, but unfortunately, the tension, the fear and the anxiety that the film required seldom gets conveyed to the audience. The lag and the flatness in the screenplay resulting mainly due to the presence of some cliched characters who all fall for the handsome, multi-talented hero are some of the reasons that dilute the impact of the movie. Nadhiya Moidu's performance was not as effective as one would expect from an actress of her caliber and one of the strong reasons behind this was the over melodramatic dialogues. In spite of Parvathy Nair's character having an importance, it didn't leave an impact majorly due to the clichedness of the characterisation. Similarly, Dileesh Pothan character does not leave his usual signature in the film. Suraj Venjarammood is a guaranteed performer and he has donned his role perfectly.
The cinematography of the movie has a speciality as it is one of the very few Malayalam movies with a big portion of it shot with the help of visual effects. The frames succeed in creating every required emotion. The songs were decent but had nothing special in them to give the movie the magic touch. Editing was good, but the repeated use of shots did loosen the grip at times.
Neerali is a decent one-time watchable thriller with some good thrilling moments, which will satisfy everyone if you are willing to turn a blind eye to the drawbacks.