Director Pramod Mohan’s Oraayiram Kinakkalal is set in the new Kochi city where everything looks prim and splendid. The modish cafés that serve expensive photogenic food, plush upper-class residences that one sees in brand commercials, and office rooms which have colorful walls and curiously designed interiors. What can possibly go wrong in such good-looking places?
Oraayiram Kinakkalal (With A Thousand Dreams) is about three people who live in this bubble of a developing metropolis. This is neither a dark film, like Kammattipadam that split open the complex fabric of the city and revealed its unpleasant foundation, nor a life-affirming Parava that explored the social nuances of Mattanchery through the story of two early teens. Oraayiram Kinaakkal follows the format of some of the early new-generation Malayalam films that unfold over a brief period of time, centered on characters who pursue quick money through corrupt ways, often in order to survive the trappings of city life. It is driven by the story-line; the twists and turns of it, and is underlined by a universal message – what goes around comes around.
The anchor of Oraayiram Kinaakkalal, Sreeram (Biju Menon) is a soft-spoken gentleman. He lived in London for a long time with his wife and only daughter, before returning for a peaceful life in Kochi. He hopes to launch a restaurant business in the city using the savings he set aside during his London life. However, things start crumbling rather soon. He loses money in share market, and goes deep into financial crisis. He keeps the problem oblivious to his heavily pregnant wife and child. Every morning, the man packs his lunch, dresses up and leaves home, like a regular office-goer with a steady salary, and spends the day at a small tea stall by the sea, scribbling things on a note-pad, contemplating and consuming endless cups of tea. Things go really wrong when his money-lender, Lalaji (Sai Kumar), a ruthless Shylock who is obsessed with cricket, sets a month deadline to payback the loan. Enter another client of Lalaji, a shrewd youngster named Jaison (Roshan Mathew), who has a rather evil plan to make money that could solve both, his and Sreeram’s problems. His girlfriend, Sherin, and Sreeram’s innocuous driver Venu (Nirmal Palazhi) join the team.
The title of the film is a nod to the famous song in Ramji Rao Speaking, a movie about three unemployed men who pretend to be kidnappers to extort some ransom money from a rich man whose child had been abducted by a gangster. Their plan works foolproof, until they start doubting each other. In Oraayiram Kinaakkalal, you keep looking out for that moment when one of these people turn against the rest. There is a large sum of money in hand, and one of these people could turn greedier, betray the team and elope with all the cash. The best part of the film is that it manages to keep the audience guessing for a long time. The predicament and desperation of Sreeram, a regular tax-paying common man, indulging in a crime for the first time makes for some humorous moments. Saikumar’s Lalaji, his animated mannerisms and quirky settings where he has based himself add a comic book feel to the movie. He is a more sophisticated version of Neram‘s RayBan. The comedy really works for it is situational or imaginative, never jutting out of the film.
But the film takes for granted everything outside its core proceedings. Sreeram’s wife, played by a non-Malayali actress, is a sweet woman who never, even for a second, lose her temperament. Her husband’s actions off late are sure suspicious, and she is in the last leg of her pregnancy, the period when her hormones go haywire. Their interactions are lifeless, and it affects the characterisation of Sreeram. So is the way sub-inspector Shajahan (Shajon), a senior police inspector who is a familiar face in the city, behaves on the night of the big crime. Three high-profile deaths have rocked the city, the police force has crowded the roads looking for clues and culprits, and at this crucial time, Shajahan coolly walks around a hospital corridor, flirting with a young girl who is one of the culprits. No effort is taken in fixing the logical flaws that make the film a terribly patchy one. Instead of being pacy, the film repeats similar scenes and instances, and after a point, the thrill wears off.
Although the films has numerous shortcomings, including lackluster music, its cast isn’t one of them. Biju Menon’s spontaneity and an unparalleled talent to look disarming on screen works marvelously in this film, like it has in the past in films such as Vellimoonga and Rakshadhikari Baiju. He is a perfect foil to his co-star, Roshan, who effortlessly portray the urbane youngster with an evil edge. While Biju and Shajon play their roles which are similar to the ones have done many times before, Roshan surprises in this new avatar.
Oraayiram Kinaakkalal is the kind of a movie that might seem trivial and asinine on the second watch. It runs on a dangerously loose thread. It could have been a slick urbane thriller-drama, but thanks to severe lack of intelligent writing, the film ends up as forgettable and put-on.
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