Project Kronos: A delightfully funny fusion of cinema and science fiction
The 45-min Malayalam film on YouTube starring Vishnu Premkumar has caught the attention of science fiction fans in Kerala
Time-travel remains a less-explored terrain in Malayalam cinema. Feature-length films on the subject are seen as risky propositions. But that doesn’t mean there is a lack of ideas or talent. Cherian Mathew, an IT professional-turned-filmmaker, is one example. He, along with actor Vishnu Premkumar, has come out with Project Kronos, a 45-minute film that blends time-travel, mockumentary, and cinema references in a delightfully comical concoction.
The opening credits set the tone of the rest of the film. The actor credit says, "The one who gave painkillers to Nivin Pauly" (a reference to Vishnu’s negative role in Mikhael); direction — another jobless engineer; cinematographer — the one with his own camera; screenplay — two writers with no acting ambitions at all; music — BGM is his main thing, sir.
We then meet the hero, Dimitry Kudukkathundiyil, who looks like a Malayali version of Jeffrey ‘The Dude’ Lebowski, the iconic character from the cult Coen Brothers hit, The Big Lebowski. Dimitry is later recounting his adventures to a faceless interviewer.
Dimitry behaves and talks like a typical Malayali. There is a lot of subtle deadpan humour and sarcastic jibes which hit the mark. For example, in one scene, Dimitry tells the interviewer that his kind of time-travel doesn’t have the subject showing up at a different time in the same clothes. Besides, his ‘time-machine’ is essentially a wooden door frame that serves as an invisible portal. He also talks about “finding solutions” from Hollywood sci-fi films.
On conceiving Project Kronos, Cherian Mathew says, “The relatability factor was so important for us. If we had not brought in some of the Malayali elements, it wouldn’t have worked as much. The main character had to be one of us. As for the novelty, I don’t think anyone has tried to blend mockumentary and time-travel like this before.”
Since Dimitry can’t control the period he ends up in, he gets to meet some key historical and mythological figures at random. His first encounter is with Parasurama, just ‘five minutes before the creation of Kerala’. Things only get more amusing from there. His souvenirs include a bottle of salt after meeting Mahatma Gandhi and Hitler’s full moustache. The best moment of them all: Dimitry meeting Mohanlal in 1980, just minutes before the actor shows up at the audition for Manjil Virinja Pookkal.
The Mohanlal references don’t end there. A mercenary group resembling the ‘Zayed Masood gang’ from Lucifer is trying to sabotage his mission for some reason. The mission? Trying to save a girl Dimitry likes, from her impending death. There is also mention of a mysterious ‘Bhaijaan’.
Cherian co-wrote the film with Vishnu, and co-edited it with Joseph C Mathew, who also shot it. Vivek Prabhakaran composed the music, while Roney C Mathew and Shalini Vishnu handled the art direction.