Movie - Arabiyum Ottakavum P Madhavan Nairum (Malayalam)
Director - Priyadarshan
Producers - Naveen Sasidharan, V Ashok Kumar
Story, Screenplay - Abilash Nair
Dialogues - Priyadarsan
Music - MG Sreekumar
Cinematography - Alagappan
Editing - Suresh
Production Design - Sabu Cyril
Release Date - 16th December 2011
Priyadarshan. Mohanlal. Mukesh. Remember Boeing Boeing, Mazha Peyyunnu Maddalam Kottunnu, Akkare Akkare Akkare, Vandanam & Kakkakkuyil?? Nobody would've made Malayalis laugh like the three of them did together. So when they get back together in Priyadarshan's comeback vehicle to Malayalam Cinema, titled interestingly as Arabiyum Ottakavum P Madhavan Nairum, expectations are bound to be huge. But the completely stupid,silly and badly cut trailer killed much of that expectations among curious fans like me. And I went in for the movie with zero expectations hoping to be happy even if it is half as funny as their last outing together, Kakkakkuyil. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the movie and restored my belief in the chemistry of these three supremely talented people.
The plot of the movie is so hackneyed that it doesnt deserve a synopsis. But you dont watch a Priyadarshan slapstick comedy for its plot. Its the gags and the chemistry of the actors that matter. The screenplay of this movie is borrowed from films starting from Serendipity and then moving on to Priyadarshan's own Chandralekha, Kakkakkuyil, Vettam and even bits which remind us of Kilukkam. The director himself has been asking his audience to keep their brains at home and come for this movie just to have some good laughs. So I dont think there's much use in discussing its storyline.
The movie begins with a narration by Sreenivasan, the other 'dude' from this gang and tells the story of Madhavan Nair. The initial fifteen minutes are dry and silly with only a few subtle funny expressions by Mohanlal which are worthwhile. It is only when Mukesh steps into the picture that things become interesting. From then on, its a joyride where these two actors play out some of the funniest scenes in recent times. Mukesh is truly in his element after a long time and has the best lines in the movie. Mohanlal lets him take spotlight most of the time and comes in form whenever required. The chemistry between these two fabulous actors is the main reason you should watch this movie. When they meet for the first time in the movie, we almost expect Mohanlal to call Mukesh 'Kalayikkaa' (Vandanam) and that, my friends, is called chemistry. And it has been intact for over 20 years now and these guys are still as funny together. Thankfully they play losers in their 40s and do not try to act younger. The second half shifts the action to a bunglow where a wedding is about to happen, then back to the desert in a thriller mode. Its only when it goes into the melodramatic mode with Mukesh's family that the film begins to drag and also the resolution of the love story in the end is pretty lame. But you dont care as long as the gags keep coming, as you're not watching it for the emotional journey of the characters or anything.
Mohanlal is just fantastic. After a disappointing comedy earlier this year called China Town (for genuine fans who expect him to showcase his true potential in comedy), he made a great comeback with another one of our favourite directors, Sathyan Anthikkadu in Snehaveedu. And now he has a worthy follow up with his other friend and director Priyadarshan who knows how exactly to use him to make a movie work. And it was a delight to see him in a drunk scene after long, and his superb timing alone saves that cliched scene from falling flat and takes it to another level. Mukesh is mindblowing, to say the least. The actor who has been doing embarrassingly poor movies off late shrugs away all that and jumps happily into this insanely funny character. Casting Mohanlal and Mukesh together in such roles itself was a winning streak by Priyadarshan. Suraaj Venjarammoodu is tolerable after ages and thanks to Priyadarshan for controlling him even though he tries to lower the movie to his standards. Innocent is loud. Mamukkoya is good. Nedumudi Venu does his regular part. Maniyan Pillai Raju is ok. Shakti Kapoor is decent. Lakshmi Rai is decent, but I'm sick of her pairing with Mohanlal in every damn movie. Enough of it, please!! Bhavana is cast perfectly and she performs well too.
Music is pathetically bad. That too in a Priyadarshan movie where music is always a highlight. MG Sreekumar and his blatantly lifted tunes are such a let down. The background score doesnt work very well also. Alagappan's cinematography is fabulous and thats not surprising considering Priyadarshan's penchant for excellent cinematography in all his films. He has a new editor Suresh on board and he could've done a much better job. If the movie was shorter by at least 20 minutes, it would've been a far more tighter and better product.
In an industry where films like Karyasthan, Pokkiri Raja, China Town and 3 Kings turn into superhits, this pure, mindless and inoffensive laughathon definitely deserves a blockbuster status. There are no double entendres or jokes which make you cringe like in most other Malayalam comedies these days. When Priyadarshan makes a movie which is nowhere near his older movies, it is still loads better than 90% of the other mindless comedies made in the language.
And yes, this post wouldnt be complete without a word on Priyadarshan. This man has made films like Thenmavin Kombathu (arguably his best film ever), Chitram, Kilukkam, Thaalavattam, Odaruthammava Aalariyaam, Adwaitham, Mazha Peyyunnu Maddalam Kottunnu, Abhimanyu, Boeing Boeing, Midhunam, Kalapani, Virasat, Kanchivaram, Bhagam Bhag and so so many more and has done so many distinct and diverse genres which no other director in this country can dream of doing in his career. And yet most Malayalis have this 'puchcham' against him and always call him a copycat and turn their face against the great work he has done. So one cant blame him if he decides to make a comeback through a silly mindless comedy for such people. And he knows what he is doing and he does it well. And for people who want to see the great director in him back in form in Malayalam, wait for his next film with MT Vasudevan Nair's script and Mohanlal in the lead. It is Priyadarshan's expertise in comedy and ability to handle his two lead actors which makes this film score. There are a hundred plotholes in the movie and even more cliches and badly done emotional scenes, but since the comedy is strong, one doesnt mind it. For people who enjoy such movies, you're in for a treat. And for people who pose as superior beings who dont like such nonsensical comedies and secretly enjoy re-runs of Kakkakkuyil and Vettam on TV, you better shut up and catch it when it comes on TV.
I had a terrible week at the movies with some poorly selected world cinema at the International Film Festival of Kerala and needed a break from that pseudo-intellectual space. I couldnt have asked for a better option than this movie. Kept my brain locked inside my home, went to the theatre with zero expectations and was pleasantly surprised by the hilarity of the movie and the ever-crackling chemistry between my favourites Mohanlal and Mukesh. The makers have made no claims and have unabashedly revealed what kind of a movie they've made. If the audiences are sensible enough to understand that and are not expecting anything path-breaking, then this movie is definitely paisa-wasool, at least for the chemistry of its awesome leading men, Mohanlal & Mukesh. It is copied, plotless, hackneyed, dated and a mish-mash of all the 80s - 90s, but still it works big time thanks to these three people - Mohanlal, Mukesh & Priyadarshan.
Bottomline - Watch it for the awesome chemistry of Mohanlal, Mukesh & Priyadarshan and laugh your heads out!!!