This frustratingly discursive but original screenplay relies heavily on its uplifting BGM for emotion, because there isn’t any of it to be found in the sorry speech pattern of Pranam Mohanlal. What’s best about Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu is that it encapsulates in the course of its two and a half hours of running time everything that is good and bad about 21st century Malayalam filmmaking. And the movie does so with such unmatched efficacy that it can be introduced in film schools as a certified guide to understanding the mechanisms of modern Malayalam films. And if published titled “the dos and don’ts in 21st century Malayalam movie”, the book might just outsell everything out there. My apology if this review so far reads like a digressive polemic against the state of contemporary commercial cinema. But jokes aside, there are some nice things I particularly enjoyed about the story, if not the movie as a whole.
Appu (Pranav Mohanlal) is a 20 something decent bloke running a homestay that overlooks a picturesque beach in Goa. His Father Baba (Manoj K Jayan) a once formidable don, is now apparently a shadow of his former self. Baba’s goofy demeanor is at odds with his claims to gangster hood. His goofiness is only matched by the silliness of Makroni who is film’s major comic relief, and Appu’s partner in crime. Baba runs up a huge debt in an underhand dealing with a funny-looking gang-leader, leaving Appu on his rope’s end.
Sometimes Appu snaps at Baba and Makroni with the grump of a kid who’s had his box of chocolates confiscated at school by means of force. Baba pleads with Appu to carry out one last quotation so that he can pay off the debt. Appu overcomes his sulk to say yes. Appearing by turns coy and petulant, Pranav as Appu actually looks out of sorts to complete a sentence without making a murmur of apology to Mohanlal fans across the globe. At times father goes into monologues as if to foreshadow his son’s unrealized potential criminality, and at other times characters take turns to make hit-and-miss self-referential jokes.
Into this playful world where Kids act like grownups, and gangsters behave like clowns, comes Zaya whose romance with Appu drives the first half. Zaya comes across as a happy-go-lucky, chirpy girl who strikes up an instant connection with Appu. The tone of the script is tinged with blunt self-deprecation which at times works to infectious effect, and at other times just falls flat. As labored as it sounded on some occasion, the situational comedy and the wry humor unfolded in a plane of contemporary familiarity. Hence, for the most part the film managed to keep me entertained. As the story picks up pace in the second half, a series of shoddily visualized stunt sequences dominates the rest of the proceedings. Now, this explosive transition into vehicles being toppled over, and train surfing never looked out place. For one thing this was a film that never seemed to be in full control of its narrative details. I could see the wheels come off long before the movie worked up to mind-numbingly bad stunts.
By the way as the film’s tagline suggests, Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu is not a don story. It basically plays like a loud, graceless tribute to the unsung couples who brave the onslaught of communalism, religion and society to live a life of dignity. However, the way the second half escalated into a horror show, made me wonder how things would have been, had the film been written by someone with better control of their craft. Irupathiyonnam noottandu is not the worst movie of the year so far. I’ve undergone greater torture this month alone, watching movies that are shoo-in for the worst movie title. It seemed like a film where the writer, director Arun Gopy seemed more interested in scoring his petty political points than ingeniously exploring the scope of a decent premise. You see no effort on his part to walk the fine line between entertaining and sensitizing the audience. Hence, you have a movie that goes from one extreme to another in the blink of an eye.
Now, if you are in an unusually pleasant mood to overlook the brazenly dreadful Visual Effects, crude jokes, forced retorts and uninspiring dialogue writing that often borders on self-righteousness, you should go ahead and watch it, you might even come away feeling mildly entertained.