Malayalam Reviews

Oru International Local Story Review: A Painfully Boring Comedy Drama

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Director: Harisree Ashokan

Cast: Rahul Madhav, Dharmajan, Nandu, Manoj K Jayan, Tini Tom, John Kaippallil, Shajon

Actor Harisree Ashokan’s directorial debut, Oru International Local Story, is built on a plot that goes haywire rather too soon. The comic sequences are painfully bland and the sub-track of romance is devoid of any warmth. It has an ensemble cast and a bunch of actors who appear in cameo roles, yet none of them get the slightest opportunity to deliver a memorable performance. The writing is shoddy, and the starkest problem the film suffers from is the narrative’s lack of coherence.

The film opens to Madhavan (Nandu), a wealthy business man winding up his operations in Malaysia and heading to India after an old partner – a villain who disappears after a slow-mo introduction shot – make some death threats. On his first night in his ancestral house in Kerala, he suffers an attack of amnesia that lasts for over thirty years. The film’s focus shifts to his grown-up sons (Manoj K Jayan, Tini Tom and John Kaippallil). Before you learn the brothers’ names, the narrative finds another bunch to fool around with –  a group of young men whose friendship undergoes a crisis when the mother of one of them asks her son to stay away from the gang. The background music turns weepy and the friends deliver emotional lines, but it is unlikely that the audience will feel any gloom.

Nothing in Oru International Local Story holds the interest of the audience. The hefty villain or a diamond jar that the film’s initial scenes are centered on, never find a mention again. Madhavan’s memory loss (which is portrayed like an annoying joke) is inconsequential to the plot. The romance between two central characters is portrayed through a token duet song sequence shot in the premises of a tourist resort. With no good reason, a loud festival song begins and everyone in the frame starts shaking a leg in perfect sync with actor Mani Kuttan who appears out of nowhere. Some of the comic sequences are staged like television skits – they are inserted into the narrative like an afterthought. Like the one where a local politician (Shajon) recounts the embarrassing incident that led to his ouster from the party fold.

Ashokan, a veteran comedian who has a loyal fan base in the state, seems to have miserably faltered in his first attempt at filmmaking. His style is too sloppy to be taken seriously, even if this were the nineties when Malayalam cinema was teeming with films that laughed at concepts of subtlety and intelligent writing. Oru International Local Story is an utterly shoddy film that is best forgotten.

*****

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