While watching An International Local Story, the debut project of Harisree Ashokan, I couldn’t help having this peculiar thought run through my mind: The main problem with filmmaking industry is that there are so many people who start with the intention just making a movie. The outcome is a run-of-the-mill camp movie whose main characters appear irredeemably lost in the unformed details of its daft script. Although Harisree Ashokan manages to rope in a host of famous stars, including himself, to play the ill-defined characters, he is no magician to turn a mediocre script into a good film.
The story starts with a scene in Malaysia where a Malayalee business man (Nandu) is seen threatened by Kala, a flamboyant villain with a pronounced American accent and lumbering slow-motion cuts fitting for a Shaji Kailas movie. Next we see another fashionably groomed character enter the story with the obligatory slow-motion cuts and questionable BGM, only this time he is seen offering a few words of advice and handing over a bag of diamonds to Nandu. Nandu along with his wife and three kids flee Malaysia for Kerala. Here he is greeted by his oddball brother in-law (Harisree Asholan) from whom he hides the real reason for his return. After showing the diamonds to his wife and kids, Nandu loses his memory when a toddy pot falls on his head and breaks into pieces.
A reader of the above paragraph may be upset if told them that this introductory plotline had nothing to do with driving themes in the movie. I was too when I gradually became aware not too into the film that it was just a lazy ploy to boost the entertainment quotient. Then we’re casually taken into a song that haphazardly encapsulates the coming of age saga of Nandu’s three kids and four other friends. Story is in effect about Rahul (Rahul Madhav) a marriage ripe young doctor who is under pressure from his parents to sever the tie with his no-good childhood buddies. Rahul falls in love with his best friend’s sister. With Rahul’s parents fixing his marriage with Nandu’s niece, story follows his predicament to keep hold of his lover and best friends.
Although the iconic Malayalam movie comedian has announced his arrival in the big stage, his first movie will be forgotten faster than the lifeless characters in the story. Here’s a film so invested in placing the whole gamut of comedy props that anything in the way of character development should be considered a bonus by the viewers. Irrelevant plotlines, crude jokes, stilted writing all make this movie look like the distant cousin of the comedy movies that it tried in vain to emulate. The goldfish-like attention span of the whole film became more conspicuous every time it presented a new story beat that looked so divorced from the reality of the characters, largely because they were all incomprehensible in the first place.
The only thing that gives this movie a shade of watchability is the presence of comedy characters. However, besides the occasional fireworks, the dialogues and buffoonery of these characters have no real impact on the narrative. Among the most impressive of them were Baiju who plays the well-meaning police guy, and whose character following an introduction scene in the early scene of the film evanesces and resurfaces later in the second half. He’s quickly added to the list of characters who is devoid of emotional depth, and whose only job is to take the equally under developed characters through dead ends.
The movie isn’t bad solely due to its screenwriting, although it has certainly played its role. Just as in the typical bad movies, you will find in “An international local Story” scenes that start too early, and end too late. The story is also populated by characters who are brought in at random just so to advance some subplot. Harisree Asokan indulges in his penchant for introducing ludicrous subplots without showing particular interest in resolving them at some point. He’s not even interested in extending them to a third scene, let alone third act. I’ve had the misfortune of watching quite a few Malayalam movies that fail so miserably at capturing the emotional reality of their characters. I don’t think I can think of a recent movie that was more inept at capturing the most basic behavior patterns of human beings.