There is a scene in the second half of Adventures Of Omanakkuttan where Omanakkuttan (Asif Ali) and Pallavi (Bhavana), dressed in rich fancy clothes, drive to a hilltop overlooking Mysore city. Minutes ago, they were at a temple, in the midst of relatives and friends, all set to get married to each other. But now, they are on the run. He looks anxious, racking his brain on a lot of unfortunate things that have been happening in his life lately. Meanwhile, Pallavi sips a bottle of beer and gazes at the city’s skyline that lies ahead of her. She sees a thousand lanterns rising from the ground and floating in the sky. She smiles. The scene is quiet and surreal – Just Pallavi leaning on to her red open car, and watching the lanterns on the sky. When the camera moves to the perspective of Omanakkuttan, you see that the lanterns have vanished, or never existed at all.
AOM is a movie which believes that what happens inside a character’s head is as important as what happens around him or her. The narration doesn’t give in to the commercial formulae, even as the film becomes slightly drawn-out for a theatre watch. It doesn’t spoon-feed backstories of characters. Neither does it underestimate the intelligence of its audience. With a lot of imagination, warmth, and freshness, director Rohith VS pulls off this film, a tale of an introverted man with an ambiguous identity and lost memory.
Omanakkuttan is an employee at Clintonica, a firm that manufactures and sells a hairoil of the same name, founded by Chandrashekhar (Siddique). He is utmost loyal to his boss, Chandrasekhar, who is clearly walking a slippery slope, thanks to all the illegitimate businesses that he is running. With hard work and earnestness, Omanakkuttan rises to the position of the company’s best employee in a short span of time. Naturally, his colleagues aren’t fond of him. His simpleton ways, unstylish hairstyle, and introversion put him in a more disadvantaged position. He is desperate for female attention, and some respect from the people around him. Things take a drastic turn after Chandrasekhar offers Omanakuttan some rather crooked advice on life, career, and women. From a private mobile number, Omanakkuttan starts calling unknown women. He introduces himself in fake names and identities, and one day, he meets with a fatal accident, loses memory and falls into a grave identity crisis.
There are interesting bits and pieces of visuals that offer a glimpse of what makes Omanakkuttan the way he is. There are some striking traces of Ben Stiller’s Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. A screaming face from his unpleasant past, the shots of him walking alone through the crowded city, the people who smirk at him from the roadsides and office cabins, reminding him of his worthlessness all day, a shot of Omanakkuttan lowering the television volume to eavesdrop on his roommate’s flirty phone conversations with his girlfriend. There is a scene in a song sequence where Omanakkuttan, excited about his new romantic adventures, goes to a salon for a trendy haircut. When it’s done, he looks into the mirror, pleased with himself, and immediately combs it back to his regular unfashionable style. Beneath all the glitz and glamour of this new virtual life that he has been leading, is his real identity of a simpleton with no evil intentions, alive and kicking.
Asif Ali is flawless as Omanakkuttan. He nails Omanakkuttan’s shy laughs and a nervous demeanour, and brilliantly underplays his act when he is with Bhavana who plays a spirited Pallavi.
Bhavana’s Pallavi is one of the best performances of the actress in recent years. She is chic, practical and adventurous – diagonally opposite to what Omanakkuttan is. It shouldn’t baffle you when she decides to befriend Omanakkuttan – who is groping in a ‘Who-Am-I situation’ – instead of taking him to police. She is, after all, a person in search of the unknown, working in one of the quirkiest fields of studies ever – Parapsychology. She isn’t easily scared, and when her (fake) wedding to Omanakkuttan is ruined, all she is worried about is that her furious father would now refuse to part with her share of family properties. There is no run-of-mill back story, or shots to celebrate her pretty face and weirdness. Instead, the film treats her as an organic part of the universe where Omanakkuttan lives.
Actor Siddique, these days, is in every other new release in Malayalam film industry. And he is brilliant in every role that he plays. Last week, he was Dulquer’s stern, yet affectionate father, a staunch Congress man, in Amal Neerad’s CIA. His presence is what makes Achayans, a below-average comedy flick that hit the screens this weekend, slightly watchable. In Adventures Of Omanakkuttan, he is Chandrasekhar, a petty criminal-turned-businessman whose struggles for survival makes for some rib-tickling scenes. Aju Varghese plays Shivraj Kumar, a former boyfriend of Pallavi, who goes all out to take revenge when she chooses Omanakkuttan over him. Varghese has an excellent comic timing, and he puts to use his rather amusing body-language to complement Siddique in their combination scenes.
Dawn Vincent’s background score is seamless, although it might remind one of Santhosh Narayanan’s work in Nalan Kumarasamy’s Kadhalum Kadanthu Pogum. Akhil George’s camerawork is neat, without trying to overpower the narration. There are several shots worth remembering. Like the one where the camera settles into the face of a nervous Omanakkuttan, clutching onto his office bag, standing in a street corner.
Adventures Of Omanakkuttan, in spite of losing its track in the tail end of the first half, and ending up slightly long-drawn, is a promising directorial debut of a filmmaker who wishes to travel an offbeat track. The humour is natural, emotions that play out are authentic, and the characters appear to be from a real space. If for nothing else, Adventures Of Omanakkuttan deserves to be watched for its heartwarming genuineness.
The Adventures of Omanakkuttan (AOM) review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.