In Oppam, Mohanlal plays a visually-impaired lift operator, who is falsely accused of a murder. Initially paavam, when the policemen begin to torture him (they also have personal scores to settle with him), his character kicks into gear. Until this point, Mohanlal had managed tough situations with the help of his heightened sense of hearing and smell, and astute focus. Now he turns into the ‘Mass’ hero. He flexes his muscles, tells the policemen to run if they want to, and then folds up his lungi and starts delivering blows. Naadan style. The audience cheer. “Laalettaa..” a man yells.
It is at this exact point that Oppam changes course: from plausible realism to a thriller.
Oppam is the latest in a long line of films the Mohalal-Priyadarshan duo have churned out. Jayaraman (Mohanlal), his family’s breadwinner, works in an apartment in Kochi. His other senses work significantly better than everyone else’s. He befriends one of the occupants, a retired chief justice (Nedumudi Venu) with a shady past. Everyone trusts him. One day, he becomes the only ‘eyewitness’ to a murderer’s escape from the crime scene. How and whether he manages to nab the killer, while keeping his loved ones safe is the story of Oppam.
The problem for Oppam is the plethora of glaring plot loopholes. Why would a well-connected, influential man who fears a fatal attack make himself vulnerable by refusing police protection and living alone? And there’s a smart policewoman who can see a pattern between seemingly unrelated deaths (written off as accidents). But when this murder happens in the same way, the same policewoman (who shows up often), doesn’t put two and two together.
Then there are some unnecessary sequences – an overly glamorous (by domestic help standards) Vimala Raman has a crush on Mohanlal. This arc seems forced into the script purely as a nod to the idea that Mohanlal is still extremely attractive. Then there is the Punjabi-Malayali song which is now terribly overdone in Malayalam films. All this detracts from the film’s freshness.
But everything can be forgiven for one (literally and otherwise) big positive: Mohanlal.
Mohanlal is in prime form, and tempts us away from focusing on the film’s flaws. He is a blind man who simply does not make mistakes. Even without the aforementioned ‘mass’ scene, he is massy enough. His heightened sense of hearing and smell makes him nearly superhuman. He also sings beautifully, plays the violin and piano, and he’s a martial arts expert.
It’s like Priyadarshan wanted to overcompensate for the character’s visual impairment.
But we buy it anyway, because it’s Mohanlal. Lifting every draggy moment with effortless acting.
Watching Mohanlal sing MG Sreekumar’s songs is heart-warming: It doesn’t get more Malayali than this. When the opening credits roll out, and the foot-tapping “Chinnama” plays against cinematographer Ekhambram’s gorgeous visuals of Kerala’s backwaters, it’s a treat to watch. And “Minungum Minnaminuge” playing in Mohanalal’s scenes with child artiste Meenakshi is one of those father-child melodies that leave you humming for a long time to come. It’s a delight to watch Meenakshi on screen, with her natural dialogue delivery and expressions.
Samuthirakani, who is gaining popularity in Malayalam cinema these days, plays the villain. At first, he is menacing. But with little character development as the film progresses, his performance begins to look one-dimensional as well.
There is suspense up to a point in the film, but after an amusing stunt sequence in the police station, the screenplay crawls towards a predictable climax.
Priyadarshan has most likely added another film to the long list of hit films with Mohanlal. But only if the audience is willing to leave all their questions on the side, and let the actor sweep us off our feet.
The Oppam 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.