Vikadakumaran movie review: Vishnu Unnikrishnan revisits his Average Joe act in a mediocre legal saga
To be fair to Vikadakumaran, it is not unbearable. It is unoriginal and contrived.
castVishnu Unnikrishnan, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Jinu Joseph, Manasa Radhakrishnan, Indrans, Leona Lishoy, Baiju, Jayan Cherthala, Arun Ghosh, Megha Mathew
Vishnu Unnikrishnan played an Average Joe to hilarious and heartwarming effect in 2016's sleeper hit from Mollywood, Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan. That film's title — an affectionate butchering of Bollywood idol Hrithik Roshan's name — was an all-pervasive reference to the hero Kichchoo's ordinary appearance for which he was forever being taunted, especially since his ambition was to be a movie star. Whatever the faults of Kattappanayile RR may have been, the gag was effective because it was relevant to the plot and woven well into it. It wears thin in Vikadakumaran though (the hottie summoned up here being Mollywood darling Dulquer Salmaan), since it does not have an accompanying convincing plotline.
Unnikrishnan in this film plays a bumbling lawyer in a lower court in small-town Kerala, a chap who can barely say the word "alibi". Then one day, a big case falls into his lap and he sees in it the key to a bright future. The hitch is that he is defending a self-confessed murderer, a wealthy and powerful man called Roshi Balachandran (Jinu Joseph) who admits to a hit-and-run killing. Advocate Binu Sebastian (Unnikrishnan) sets about doing whatever it takes to save his rich client.
Before the film settles into this pivotal case, the opening half hour is somewhat amusing as Binu Vakeel blunders his way through various legal wrangles. Whatever humour it offers though is tainted by dialogues and situations that normalise and comedify sexism and colour prejudice. The ewww-inducing low point is the passage involving an entire courtroom leering at a buxom woman guilty of marital infidelity, following which she pays her lawyer Binu with cash and rewards his sidekick (Dharmajan Bolgatty) by pressing her body up against his. It reflects poorly on our cinema that this scene’s shudder-worthiness is mild in comparison with what we have seen in other Mollywood films.
Besides, in this Jolly LLB-style Malayalam adventure, it does not take much intelligence to guess that as matters progress, Binu will smarten up and prove to be far cleverer than anyone would have assumed from his early missteps. Fair enough. The effect is diluted though by multiple plot contrivances including the extreme stupidity and amateurishness of too many characters to suit Binu's convenience, the unconvincing characterisation of the lead villain in particular and the abundance of cinematic clichés in the screenplay.
Roshi, for one, is built up as a menacing bad guy with immense clout, yet he proves to be quite assinine in all his decisions including the reasoning behind why he hired Binu and the way he is so easily deceived by everyone involved. Although every effort is made to convince us otherwise in early scenes, Roshi turns out to be an absolute idiot who does not do his homework and has no one else doing his homework for him.
Leona Lishoy is wasted playing an actor who gets caught in a mess of Roshi's making. Megha Mathew is nothing more than a female prop in the office of Roshi's bete noir. And the attractive Manasa Radhakrishnan provides the mandatory girlfriend in Binu's life because, well, how can Everyman be deemed a protagonist in a macho world if he cannot prove his attractiveness to at least one young, good-looking woman?
Also thrown into Binu's profile are a nagging widowed mother and a loving, hearing-impaired sister, both designed to manipulate us into feeling sympathetic towards him.
To be fair to Vikadakumaran, it is not unbearable. It is unoriginal and contrived. Is it better for a film to be terrible than to be so mediocre that it is easily forgotten within an hour? Perhaps the director can help us find the answer to that question.
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