Oru Yamandan Premakadha movie review: His Royal Cuteness Dulquer Salmaan gets a script that is just so...meh
Oru Yamandan Premakadha is filled with running jokes that range from funny-at-first-but-ruined-by-repetition to downright unfunny, distasteful and/or dull.
castDulquer Salmaan, Vishnu Unnikrishnan, Salim Kumar, Soubin Shahir, Samyuktha Menon, Nikhila Vimal, Renji Panicker, Bibin George, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Lena, Akshara Kishor, Sunil Sukhada, Dileesh Pothan, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Hareesh Perumanna, Arun Kurian
It must be tough being Dulquer Salmaan. On the one hand, you are a fine actor keen to work in intelligent films and be a part of the Malayalam industry's increasing ability to make blockbusters out of sensible cinema. On the other hand, you have the looks and personality to possibly pull off those stereotypical larger-than-life characters that the senior male megastars of your industry, including your Dad, have played for decades and that continue to earn crores. The factors that recently persuaded your usually unconventional contemporary Nivin Pauly to waste himself on Mikhael must be at play in your life too. I can only imagine a zillion voices trying to coax you to go the way of The Great Father, Lucifer and Mikhael.
Hear ye Your Royal Cuteness, Your Majesty Prince of the Malayalam Realm, Explorer of Kingdoms Beyond, Actor Par Excellence, Knight of the Handsome Face and Sweet Smile, if Oru Yamandan Premakadha reveals anything to a long-time viewer of your work, it is that the likes of Ustad Hotel, Kammatipaadam and Kali are your natural habitat - your reluctance to head in the opposite direction shows.
Readers should not misunderstand: to be fair to Oru Yamandan Premakadha (A Massive/Powerful Love Story), it is far from being the excruciating experience that The Great Father, Lucifer and Mikhael were. When it gets loud it is not as loud, when it is clichéd it is still not insufferable. What it is though is neither here nor there.
Oru Yamandan Premakadha (OYP) is an obvious effort by writers Bibin George and Vishnu Unnikrishnan (who earlier collaborated on Amar Akbar Anthony and Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan) along with director BC Naufal to be ruminative while trying to achieve the magnitude of Mollywood's megabucks formula films. Sorry gentlemen, but those ruminations are downright ridiculous and the shot at appearing thoughtful is in any case overshadowed by the attempt to scale up.
Dulquer Salmaan / DQ's decision to pick this film is at one level inexplicable, because it truly is a silly script. At another level though, when viewed solely in the context of its tenor and the size of its canvas, the choice suggests a hesitation to go all-out low-key like his colleague Fahadh Faasil, even as he steers clear of formulaic rubbish.
DQ plays OYP's Lallu, the happy-go-lucky son of a rich lawyer (Renji Panicker). The young man cares nothing for the comforts his father's wealth can buy. He prefers leftovers from a friend's kitchen over food from an expensive hotel, paints houses instead of opting for a high-flying corporate career of the sort his younger brother (Arun Kurian) has gone in for, and hangs out with men who his Dad considers below their station.
Lallu has three constant companions. Teny (Vishnu Unnikrishnan) earns a living as a bad karaoke singer on the streets and is blind. The elderly widowed alcoholic Panjikuttan (Salim Kumar) is a house painting contractor. Soubin Shahir plays a man anxious to hook up with any woman who will have him.
All the girls in town have been smitten by Lallu since he was a boy, but Lallu was and is determined only to be with a woman with whom he shares a "spark" at first sight. One such angelic creature does come along at one point, but the film has meandered about for sooooo long till then and everything that follows thereafter is so stupid that it is impossible to care.
At first there are a few laughs to be had at the expense of Lallu and his buddies. Pretty soon, however, the humour peters out and the script keeps jumping from one unconnected thought to another, feeling quite vacuous after a while. If the idea is to dwell on the many unexpected and unexplained cross connections in human relations, to make a point that even the most seemingly insignificant person serves a purpose in life, then the point is poorly made. If the idea is to tickle our funny bones, then it barely works.
OYP is filled with running jokes that range from funny-at-first-but-ruined-by-repetition to downright unfunny, distasteful and/or dull, dull, dull. Like the thread about a roadside eatery owner (Hareesh Perumanna) who is so bad at Maths that he cannot calculate what his patrons owe him and therefore does not charge them. Yawn. Or that other thread involving a jobless twosome (Dharmajan Bolgatty is one of them) seated outside and talking non-stop. Yawn. Or the emaciated-looking fellow who struggles to catch fish and who is incessantly taunted for his skinniness, which includes being addressed as "onangiya sraavey" (dried-up shark). Err, nasty! Or Lallu's repeated use of "omana kutti" in place of "ok". Umm, no ya, trying too hard to be cho-chweet and cash in on the actor's own omana-kuttan-ness. As for Lallu's full name that is revealed only in the final scene, it is such a yawn, yawn, yawn. Some of these motifs have potential, but the writers fail to flesh them out well.
There are other more grave refrains in OYP that are no doubt meant to be profound, but are no less ineffectual. Like the one featuring the villainous Davis (Bibin George), a mysterious chap with a physical disability who is haunted by Mommy issues and who keeps appearing, disappearing and reappearing. Whatever.
Then there is the passing reference to a "vanitha mathil" (women's wall), the third time in a month now that I have heard a Malayalam film make a wisecrack about the human chain formed in Kerala earlier this year as a symbol of solidarity in the women's rights movement. Unlike the misogynistic potshots in Mera Naam Shaji and Madhuraraja, the mention in OYP is not cutting - it is meaningless. Still, the fact that the mathil is repeatedly being brought up in popular culture with pretended nonchalance indicates just how much it has disturbed the men of this patriarchal industry. There is a separate and long discussion to be had here.
That said, everything that is wrong with OYP - including its rather bizarre, mixed-up comment on the (un)importance of education - is put in the shade by the writers' deathly serious conviction that a human being could fall deeply in love with someone they have only seen in a photograph. This is not portrayed as a mere attraction but as a profound, life-altering love.
The supporting cast of OYP is packed with familiar faces, but in the face of such uninspiring writing, most deliver generic performances. Suraj Venjaramoodu, Lena and Dileesh Pothan invest more of themselves in the film than it deserves. Two striking women who have already proved that they are solid artistes - Nikhila Vimal (Njan Prakashan) and Samyuktha Menon (Theevandi) - are squandered here as showpieces in a plot pinned entirely on the male protagonist.
DQ looks good in lungis and is charming of course, but even his charm cannot hold up nearly three hours of exhausting wanderings. Your Royal Handsomeness, whatchadoin' with this lousy script? A better name for it would have been Oru Mundane Premakadha.
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