‘9’ Movie Review: A Movie Definitely Worth a Watch

9 is a recently released Malayalam movie, starring Prithviraj. It has been anticipated for a long time as a sci-fi movie, which is rare in Indian movie industry, particularly in Malayalam. However, when the movie was finally released, most of the initial ratings were mixed, if not negative. I have never seen another Malayalam movie in which the opinion vary to this extend. However, when I finally watched the movie, I realized that it is indeed a gem. The problem was probably people’s expectations. 

The 9 Movie Release Poster

Let’s get straight to it, 9 IS NOTa sci-fi movie. So do not go and watch the movie expecting some crazy Hollywood style futuristic elements. Neither is the movie a full time horror, or a psychological thriller. Rather it has elements from all of it, and would definitely give a fantastic experience if you keep all these expectations out of your mind. 9 is a suspense thriller, and an end-to-end entertainer. At the same time, the movie expects a lot of “connecting-the-dots” from the viewer, and that’s what makes the movie special. It is not an accident, but an intentional well conceived idea that leaves all the necessary dots that allows the viewer to properly connect those.

Apart from the innovative thread, the movie also features marvellous landscapes and amazing visual effects, that blends perfectly well with a unique background score. In short, the movie is truely world class and a very unique in terms of the storyline, and stays in the minds of the viewers a lot longer than any other Indian movie does.

Hence my sincere request to all is not to fall prey to the negative reviews, and definitely watch the movie in theatres. The experience that you get with this movie in theatres can never be compared to that can be felt through a television. Also, try not to read more reviews on the movie, as the more you read online reviews, the less would be your experience from the movie. I urge not only Malayalis, but also my non-Malayalam-speaking friends to watch the movie, as this is a rare kind in the whole Indian film industry.

Spoiler Alert: DO NOT READ FURTHER if you haven’t watched the movie. Once you watch the movie, do come back to read more if you have questions unanswered.

In the section that follows, I attempt to answer certain typical questions a viewer would have after coming out of the theatres. These are mostly my perceptions with supporting points from the movie.

Is Ava Real?

As explained towards the end of the movie, Eva is a temporary construct of Albert’s (Prithviraj) mind. You may have two probable questions on this statement: Why is the movie’s end abrupt without Adam confirming or denying Eva’s existence? What is the meaning of the cave paintings depicting the wolf and a faminine spirit?

Why the abrupt end?

The film ended abruptly without Adam expressing his mind on if Eva ever existed. This is a typical behaviour which has been followed in many movies, particularly in Hollywood. A popular example is the famous Inception movie’s spinning top. This leaves a lot of questions to the viewer’s descretion. However in this aspect, 9 didn’t shine well. Although the movie succeeded in initially giving such an impression, it would not stand, as both the assistant and Hakka have actually seem Albert attacking them, according to Dr. Inayat Khan.

Isn’t the cave paintings confirming Eva’s existence?

No. The cave paintings were mentioned to Albert by Dr. Inayat Khan before he left for the Himalayas. It is safe to assume that Albert would have seen the paintings before he started having the illusions, and the illusions were inspired by the paintings. The wolf shown at two occasions in the movie is also shown to be an illusion towards the end, when Albert was able to dismiss it. Also Albert’s knowledge of the location of the cave also asserts this point.

Why are there so many mismatches?

It may seem that there are so many mismatches, like Albert talking to Hakka while Adam is playing with Eva, the initial encounter of Eva with a lady shopkeeper etc. This is where I particularly believe that the movie has left a lot of incidents for the viewer’s perception. As I perceive, Albert being affected by bipolar disorder gives him confusing sense of the reality. At a time when Albert is actually playing with Adam, his subconscious mind imagines the conversations with Hakka. At this point, the concious mind is acting like that of Eva, and the Albert lives in the sub concious mind. Similarly, when Albert was actually driving after dropping Eva, his subconcious imagined the scene at the cloth shop.

I.e. When the concious mind switches from Eva to Albert, the imagination of the sub-concious mind of talking to Hakka is perceived by Albert’s concios mind as “real” memory. And same is the case vice versa when the concious mind switches from Albert to Eva. And at the same time, Eva and Albert share the same information space as well.

In short if you ask me, the movie crew has done a wonderful job by creating the right scenario for the viewer to remain ambigous. The way a movie should be judged should be based on how long it stays in the viewer’s mind after the showtime. In this regard, 9 is perhaps one of the most successful movies ever made in Malayalam.