My Santa review: This Santa brings a few cheers but no gifts
Dileep's My Santa redeems itself only in the climax portions before which, we have to sit through around 135 minutes of exaggerated performances
My Santa is a film that demands too much from the viewer. In addition to requiring an immense reserve of patience, it requires one to put up with its heightened theatricality, 90s-style melodrama, and excessive sweetness. It also requires you to be a child again and think like one. This is essentially a movie meant for kids.
It spends its entire first half with its main character, an effervescent little girl (played by Baby Manasvi) who has lost her parents in an accident. She is now in the care of her endearing grandfather Kuttusan (Sai Kumar). The girl is easily the best character in the film. Despite her situation, she sports a cheerful disposition most of the time. She is obsessed with Santa Claus and writes letters to God to grant all her wishes. She hopes to see her parents in heaven and also get a few other things done. The reason for this Santa Claus obsession is Kuttusan, who found it to be the only way to cheer up the girl after the tragedy.
This is a movie tailor-made for Christmas. It's filled to the brim with Christmas memorabilia. There is a magical quality to the entire film. Director Sugeeth wants us to see the world as the girl sees it. He takes us through gorgeous-looking frames of dreamily-lit houses in misty locales and enchanting musical set-pieces — all achieved with some decently rendered CGI. But, put aside the visualisation and My Santa is largely a patience-testing affair.
It takes an hour for Dileep's Santa Claus to show up — in a motorcycle with 'Dec 25' on its number plate — and his arrival doesn't exactly make things better. Like the girl, the film keeps us constantly guessing as to whether he is a real Santa or just a figment of her imagination. You see, that's another one of the film's minor strengths. Much of the second half is devoted to Santa making most her wishes come true. A couple of her wishes can't be granted because, well, you'll learn the reason in the finale.
My Santa redeems itself to a small extent in its climactic moments. But before you get to that, you have to sit through around 135 minutes of exaggerated performances. I found Santa's laugh annoyingly repetitive and the banter between him and the girl, cringe-inducing. And once you put Dharmajan's antics into the mix, you will get an idea of what I'm trying to say. I know this is one of those films that you are not to seek logic in, but even if you decide to shut off your brain and go with the flow, it's impossible to shake off the after-effects of the film's sweetness overdose.
I have to admit, though, that I found the film's concept quite refreshing. There is some clarity to be found in the way the entire narrative progresses. I liked how it fleshes out its child characters and their relationships. Some of the film's most emotionally stirring portions involve the girl and her cancer-stricken best friend. It's a beautiful friendship oozing with oodles of innocence. And when you see certain things coming from a mile away, you can't help but feel the need to protect this girl. But the cheer returns once the final twist is revealed. A couple of surprising last-minute cameos brought a smile to my face.