To conceptualise a car chase scene, involving a few policemen and two men on the run, a filmmaker has only so many options. In 1744 White Alto, director Senna Hegde does not choose any of these, leading to a chase scene that would be remembered for the humour that it creates rather than the tension. One of the police officers, who is proud of his intelligence, thinks that it is better that the vehicle goes slow without overtaking the men they are chasing, so that they could peacefully nab them once their fuel runs out.
The men being chased also ends up being confused, seeing the uncharacteristic behaviour of the policemen. They actually suspect the police of having some intelligent plan to entrap them. The scene also ends up being a commentary on skyrocketing fuel prices. Hegde and co-writer Sreeraj Raveendran shine in such situations that conjure up out of nowhere, but the film is so unlike Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam, Hegde’s remarkable debut film, where the humour was much more organic.
1744 White Alto
Director: Senna Hegde
Cast: Sharafudheen, Rajesh Madhavan, Vincy Aloshious, Anand Manmadhan
It is unlike that film in more ways than one. 1744 White Alto is set in an imaginary landscape, which looks like a nod to spaghetti Westerns with its arid plains and shanties. Even the policemen appear with red berets, uncommon for cops anywhere in the country. Of course, the ‘Made in Kanhangad’ branding from the debut film is still there, but this time it has more to do with the people working behind the scenes, rather than the film’s narrative. A man is injured in a shootout, and the police gather a clue that the men involved had gotten away in a white Alto car. To add to the confusion, a small-time liquor smuggler is also going around in a similar car.
The officer (Sharafudheen) leading them meanwhile has his own share of problems, with his mother and wife (Vincy Aloshious) at each other’s throats. His attention is equally divided between the criminals on the run and in sorting out his family issues. The men they are chasing have their own quirks, with one of them (Anand Manmadhan) prone to getting angry at the drop of a hat and reaching for his gun, and also having a habit of catching reruns of Home Alone whenever he gets a chance. The characters all fit right into the comic caper genre to which the movie belongs.
Some of the situations that the writers set up does create effective dark humour, but this does not happen every time. The narrative also does not flow seamlessly as in Hegde’s debut film, rather, it does so in fits and starts. What carries the day for the film is the originality of the set-up, even when some of the scenes do not work.
1744 White Alto struggles to match the high bar set by Senna Hegde’s debut, but it stands in its own right as a fairly enjoyable comic caper.
1744 White Alto is currently running in theatres