It’s been a while since we saw a movie that takes turns the way something like “Attention Please” does. There is a certain intelligence in the camera work and the setting, which makes them an integral part of the story itself. On one hand, the movie incorporates a very important dialogue, albeit a little one-sided, about the current state of creative storytelling in films and the types of reactions to it. From there, it’s a step-by-step and well-crafted lead-up to a commentary on casteism in the industry. A movie from recent memory that introduced the problem of casteism in its storyline like “Attention Please” is “Jana Gana Mana.” Both films represent seemingly unrelated events that led to that particular comment. But unlike the latter, which capitalizes on the shock value of the topic, the former justifies it with its narrative. Let’s take a look at how that happens.
Hari’s Stories On The Rooftop
“Attention Please” starts with five men starting their day in their house. It’s like any other bachelor pad, with the men engaging in everyday discussions about films and food. Hari, our protagonist, is a struggling writer and lives with Ajith, Jithin, Yadhu, and Himal. He is not respected by his roommates as he doesn’t work, and they have to foot his bills quite often, especially Jithin. They all tell him constantly that his scripts are not good enough and that if he must continue writing, he might as well look for other jobs because they don’t want to pay for him anymore. Note here that the others are not just telling him to bring some money into the house. They are actively telling him that he is not good enough to fulfill his dream. Despite their claim of good intentions, none of the criticisms they dish out are constructive.
Later that evening, the five of them sit together to drink. Hari starts narrating some of his stories as entertainment for that evening. We will give him that, he is a good storyteller. As he narrates his stories, the group has a lot of opinions. They tell him that it all feels a little bit plagiarized. In particular, Jithin seems to really hate everything Hari writes. Either way, the men decide to continue their session on the terrace. Ajith steps out for a bit for some business. On the terrace, Hari continues with his stories. After one particular narration, the others seem to like what he has written. But Jithin continues to berate Hari. Both of them get into a heated argument, with Jithin accusing Hari of just mixing up a few scripts together instead of coming up with something original. As the argument intensifies, Hari, having had enough, stabs Jithin with a broken bottle. Yadhu and Hamil are shocked and want to help him, but Hari threatens them to step back. Through another story, he explains how he was constantly berated by Jithin all the time and how tired of it he was. Right then, they hear Ajith come back to the house. Hari covers up Jithin’s body with a blanket and tells the others to be normal.
When Ajith comes to the terrace, we see that he has brought a girl with him, Leena. They have eloped and are going to get married the next day. It looks like a normal scene, with Jithin just peacefully sleeping. Hari is instantly chatty with Leena and is occasionally a little rude. She is from a lower caste than Ajith, and that is the reason for their parents’ opposition to the marriage. This particular topic, especially a poem recited by Leena, seems to bring Hari dangerously close to the edge. After a while, Ajith and Hari decide to go down to get some stuff. Before leaving, Hari asks for Leena’s phone and tells her that he will give it to Ajith once he is done. As soon as they are gone, Hamil and Yadhu tell Leena that Jithin is dead, and they are all in danger. But before they can do anything about it, Hari comes back. He takes the second phone that Leena had, with which they were going to call the police. Ajith is not with him, and the three people are scared that he might be dead. Hari refuses to say what has happened to Ajith and continues with his stories. He touches upon his childhood and talks about how he has always been the one left out of everything because he is from a lower caste. He speaks about how he got made fun of for his skin color as well as his name. Hari also touches upon how nobody talks about caste directly but makes their discrimination clear through their behavior. He asks Leena whether she really believed that Ajith’s parents would ever accept her. Hari mentions how, in his house, he is constantly told that he is not good enough and how this is reflective of a larger mindset that doesn’t consider people from the so-called “lower castes” as worthy of success and talent.
‘Attention Please’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Ajith And The Others?
Hari starts telling them one final story, and towards the end of it, Jithin’s phone starts ringing. It is Hari’s mother. Hari picks up the phone and starts talking to her. It is like any other mother and son catching up, and one wouldn’t be able to understand that he is holding 3 people hostage and has killed 2 others. He takes the call downstairs. The screen cuts to him writing at his table, the way he was at the beginning of the film. His roommate calls him to eat, and Jithin, who is alive and well, tells him about an incident that had happened to him. Something clicks in Hari’s mind, and he smiles. That look of confusion on Hari’s face was that of someone experiencing Deja Vu. The entire events of the film were Hari’s new script. And it was playing out in real life, just like how he had written it. That smile of his could mean two things. One is how he perfectly caught the habits and mannerisms of his roommates upon whom the story is based. And second, he is happy that the events are repeating, meaning that he has no problem bringing them to life. Our bet is on the latter.
Conclusion: What Works For ‘Attention Please’ Film?
“Attention Please” at no point implies that Hari is a good writer. A lot of the criticism he gets is fair. Hari, at best, is someone mediocre who doesn’t possess sufficient creativity. But the point the makers were trying to convey is that in a larger societal structure, “upper castes” get a pass on their mediocrity while the “lower castes” don’t. Technically, neither should, but the rampant gatekeeping of artistic acceptance creates an exploitative playing field. The commentary on this was rather masterfully executed. To look at it one way, “Attention Please” is all about a guy talking and everybody else listening. But even that comes with its own rhythm and punches and has its finger on the pulse of the viewer. Malayalam cinema is really out there, giving us serve after serve. We love this movie, and it just goes to show that content is king. Our eyes will stay glued towards the South for more such groundbreaking content while gently nudging Bollywood to take some more notes.
“Attention Please” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Jithin Issac Thomas.