Pencil - Movie Review

Friday, May 13, 2016 - 16:15
Pencil (2016)
Cast & Crew: 

Film: Pencil
GV Prakash, Sri Divya, Shariq Haasan, VTV Ganesh, Uravashi, Abhishek Ghosh, Priya Ghosh and others
Dialogues: Shashank Vennelakanti
Cinematography: Gopi Amarnath
Editing: Anthony
Art: Rajeevan
Produced by: G Hari
Story, screenplay, directed by: Mani Nagaraju
Release date: May 13, 2016

'Pencil' begins with a crime in a classroom of a famous educational institution. An unseen person is shown stabbing to death a student. Siva (GV Prakash Kumar) begins narrating the story when the film leaps back by a few months. Nithin (Shariq Haasan) is the son of a Telugu film superstar, studying the same college as Siva.  
Siva, a brilliant student, has had rivalry with Nithin and his gang, notorious for their unscrupulous and arrogant ways.  Siva loves Maya (Sri Divya), but she hasn't reciprocated to him even after two years. As Siva lovingly declares, he is not a bit agitated or angry even though Maya has spoken with him only twice in the last two years - that too, to call him stupid.  
Maya happens to discover that a classmate of her, a girl, hasn't been able to pay the college fee because Nithin has been extortioning money from her by blackmailing with an MMS he had made secretly.  This brings Maya and Nithin in direct confrontation. On the other hand, Nithin uses the same trick to blackmail a lady lecturer, who is caught engaged in a romantic act with another lecturer whom she loves. As a matter of habit, Nithin does something that spoils Siva's rare honour to give a presentation in UNESCO.  
The rest of the film is about how Siva gets embroiled in a major trouble not of his making, and how Maya and Siva make efforts by using their brain and sheer guts to come out of it.  
The film is in the genre of a crime thriller. The film's plot bears so much of similarity with '4th Period Mystery', the 2009 South Korean thriller film. Made on a relatively small budget, 'Pencil' takes place entirely in a college campus, but for a duet shot in a foreign location. So, don't expect visually superb stuff here.  
The director (Mani Nagaraj) seems to have been carried away by the fact that he is telling a message in the climax. To be fair to him, the climax has a monologue that is touching. A character becomes a conscience-keeper. That said, one wonders why the script had some elements which it had. For example, the commercialization of education is an element that should have been given a better reason to be there in the script.  
GV's acting is nothing much to write about. The other characters are okay.  Most of the faces are not familiar to our audience. Sri Divya's character grows in strength in the second half.  Together with a timid-looking Siva, she adds weight to the script with her presence. Her dialogue delivery and expression do justice to the role. The element of her love for crime novels is used to a good effect.
Despite the screenplay having parallel narrations - read the inspection team led by Urvashi, the comedienne, moving around the college blocs, and three NCC impersonators adding to the confusion of Urvashi and a cop who has entered the campus, the proceedings seem dry.
The element of rivalry between corporate education institutions is an example of more noise and less light. G.V. Prakash Kumar's BGM is good, but the songs are really a distraction. 'Vennela' is a duet that is well-shot for a film of his budget.  he dialogues are just about OK. There is no much wit in them. Gopi Amarnath's cinematography could have been better.
It's a crime thriller with no much zing. An old story set in a college backdrop.

Reviewed by: 
Viswanath V