Malayalam film ‘David and Goliath’ has a lot wrong with it. But if you’re willing to put aside scientific implausibility, karmic inconsistencies, and lots of loose ends, there may have been some hidden merits. Spoiler alert!
David and Goliath is one of those movies that has all the ingredients for an epic Vigil Idiot comic. Unfortunately Vigil Idiot does not do Malayalam movies, and I can’t draw. So you’re stuck with this.
The fun begins when one of the lead characters called Sunny (played by Anoop Menon) stumbles across a scrap gadget while on a fishing outing. The gadget includes a wheel, a pedal, some wires, and a light bulb. Perhaps it was because of his slightly intoxicated state that it took this engineer some time to do the math and figure out what that the contraption is meant to do. Not exactly rocket science, you think? Try explaining that to Sunny, who after figuring out the right way to rotate the pedal and light the bulb in the late hours of the night, erupts into an almighty roar of jubilation that could’ve given Archimedes’s alleged naked celebrations some serious competition. I spent a couple of frantic minutes looking around the theatre to for somebody to share incredulous looks with, but on seeing mostly empty seats around me I unwillingly returned to Anoop Menon’s antics (By then the camera was revolving around teary-eyed Sunny in slo-mo).
I’m not belittling basic physics, trust me – I too have experienced that thrill when your circuit perfectly follows Ohm’s Law. But that was in high school. It’s pretty impressive if a thirty-something engineer has managed to maintain that level of enthusiasm for something otherwise very unrevolutionary. Especially when he played no part in its construction.
Anyway the next scene lays further doubt on Sunny’s intelligence: he un-assembles the device wanting to figure out how it works but is unable to re-assemble it. He’s devastated because unless he fixes it he can’t make money off it. Then, in a bizarrely effortless sequence of events, Sunny hunts down David, the creator of his “magic” device. David (played by Jayasurya) is a poor unemployed boy-genius in a man’s body, who graciously accepts Sunny’s offer to let him work at his generator factory. Of course what Sunny is actually doing is exploiting David’s skills to build the technology for an exercise-bike-cum-power-generator (light up your home while burning away your cholesterol!).
Being good kinda sucks
Sunny begins marketing the machine (all while claiming that he was the mastermind) and it’s a great success but a couple of TV reporters sense that something is fishy. After a quintessential let’s-make-the-journalists-look-bad routine, the movie ends with David forgiving Sunny and everyone living happily ever after. By that I mean Sunny continues to enjoy the luxuries of his ill-gotten wealth with only the goodwill of the man he cheated. Of course David too probably led a comfortable life, but while the story seems to suggest to us that this arrangement worked so well because of David’s forgiving nature, it doesn’t take a genius to understand that Sunny doesn’t really have a choice here. It’s either treat David well, or get outed for the fraud he is.
Sometimes I really worry about how flawed the concept of right and wrong is in some movies. Now I have no problem with non-happy endings. The good guy doesn't have to win all the time, of course. That's life. But I'm always taken aback when perfectly unscrupulous guys (Arun the playboy thief in Diamond Necklace, Sethu the unfaithful chauvinist in Bavuttiyude Namathil, and now Sunny in David and Goliath) not only get way, but get away with no hard feelings from the hurt party. These movies seem to be implicitly setting an unreal standard for the 'good' people.
On the bright side…
That being said, like many of Anoop Menon stories (he is also the screenwriter of David…), this movie had some refreshing aspects:
Lena plays Jaynamma, a village drunk (yes, a female drunk!) with a tragic past, who is for a change projected as a strong character, instead of being vilified. I thought her character deserved a little closure, but she turned out to be just a tool to move the story forward.
Similarly newcomer Soumya’s role as David’s love interest Sharon was just a loosely tied parallel story, but I liked that there was no excessive drama in their romance. It was quite refreshing to see Sharon as the stronger character compared to David when they are faced with the village rowdy who routinely bothers her. I’m glad the director did not succumb to the temptations of stereotyping.
Jayasurya played out his role as the subservient, timid, uneducated genius David as well as anyone could have, though I wonder if he overdid the childishness David as a young boy in the flashbacks did not seem that socially inept.
David and Goliath was to put it plainly a bad movie. But it was a bad movie that got some little things right, and personally I prefer those to commercial hits that tend to be far more insensitive.
(Nandita Jayaraj writes about her encounters with the strange and interesting. You can send her feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tweet her @nandita_j )