Malayalam Reviews

Drama Review: Where An Ensemble Cast Tries To Cover Up Haywire Filmmaking

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Director: Ranjith

Cast: Mohanlal, Dileesh Pothan, Baiju, Asha Sharath, Arundhati Nag

Composer: Bijibal, Vinu Thomas

Filmmaker Ranjith’s Drama, in some parts, is a one-man show starring Mohanlal. A little while into the film, as the plot climbs to a certain level of absurdity, Mohanlal starts working his charm – dishing out the boy-next-door mannerisms and humour he is known for – while his co-stars become a blur in the background. On screen, he phones his estranged wife who furiously disconnects the call. He sends her voice messages, talks to himself a little too much, and then starts hallucinating after downing some whiskey. The actor, in all fairness, seems really delighted to play a part in this inane drama, unlike his other recent outings such as Neerali where it looked like he had to be pushed into the frame.

The film’s basic premise as well as some of the portions resemble Ranjith’s Kadal Kadannoru Mathukkutty where an NRI man’s nostalgia and pastoral values clash with the capitalist society he lives in.

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In Drama, Rosamma (Arundhati Nag), a senior citizen who’d arrived in her daughter’s London residence from her hometown in Idukki, dies peacefully in bed one morning. Her five children who live in different parts of the world, decide that the funeral be held in a grand manner in London, contrary to the dead woman’s final wish that she be cremated in Idukki, next to her husband’s grave. Her youngest son, Jomon (Niranjan), an unemployed youth whom his rich and influential brothers regard as a weed in the family, wants to fulfill the dead mother’s wish, but can’t seem to find a way. Enter Rajagopal Nair aka Raju (Mohanlal), the co-owner of a funeral service company in London, who becomes Jomon’s ally in this mission.

Over the years, Ranjith’s attempts to reinvent himself as a filmmaker narrating stories about the modern society with an ensemble cast, has resulted in disasters such as Puthanpanam and Loham. The weight of the core story gets diluted in the commotion of sub-stories and many irrelevant scenes that Ranjith clumsily tosses into the film. Drama might have looked several times stronger a film on paper, as a synopsis in a few lines. Rosamma’s family looks robust from the outside – her two sons (Suresh Krishna and Tini Tom) are building what must be the biggest shopping mall in Kottayam, her daughter (Kaniha) is well-settled in London with her cardiac surgeon husband (Shyamaprasad) and two children, and her other daughter Ammini (Subi) is a nurse in Canada. The decay in the family becomes starkly visible on the days after the mother’s death. This wannabe domestic comedy culminates as a meaningless fiddle that piggybacks on the ensemble cast (a horde of male actors like Mohanlal, Dileesh Pothan and Baiju) and their on-screen chemistry. There is an extended parallel track involving Rajagopal’s wife, Rekha (Asha Sharreth), who has thrown him out of the house for flirting with her friend on phone. The film professes the importance of forgiveness in this part, stating that it is the responsibility of the wife to tolerate and pardon her unfaithful husband in order to keep the family afloat. “That was a little male joke,” says Rajagopalan in a scene where he narrates the phone-sex incident to the audience.

The film might as well be used as a radio drama as the visuals are there just for the sake of it, shot and edited like an Indian television serial. The starkest problem must be its haywire editing that lends it an amateur texture. When a character arrives in London from Australia, we are treated to random shots of his journey from the airport. In one of the opening sequences, we see a family at the breakfast table, eating a bowl of cereal and telling each other that they were getting late. It goes on forever. These scenes reek of bland aesthetics and a certain meaninglessness that permeates the film, making you wonder what a mighty fall Ranjith’s oeuvre has had, from stellar works such as Palerimarnikyam Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Katha, to the tripe that it is now.

*****

The Drama review is a Silverscreen original review. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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