Oru Thekkan Thallu Case Movie Review: Mildly entertaining fare that overstays its welcome
There are quite a few hilarious moments that made me laugh out loud, but such moments are in short supply
I remember Amminipilla Vettu Case -- the GR Indugopan story that served as the source for Oru Thekkan Thallu Case (OTTC) -- being an immensely witty and satisfying story. I can't say the same for the film adaptation, which extends that story with additional narrative elements and modifications to Podiyan, the character played by Roshan Mathew. Having seen the film, I wish they had left the story alone. It's not because the filmmaking is terrible -- in fact, it is indeed a technically superior effort -- but because it's simply unremarkable as a piece of entertainment. It's not the kind of film you come away from feeling mind blown. When the source material is quite strong, one expects its adaptation to be competent, no? Alas!
Director: Sreejith N
Cast: Biju Menon, Padmapriya, Roshan Mathew, Nimisha Sajayan
OTTC is the fourth movie after Driving Licence, Ayyappanum Koshiyum, and Thallumala dealing with excessively proud men who start fighting after their egos get hurt. The chaos in OTTC gets initiated by a morally upright character that happens to notice something at the wrong time. It's not an issue if you look at it from a liberal standpoint, but Amminipilla's (Biju Menon) principles won't allow him to see things our way. He is loyal to one woman, his wife (Padmapriya), and she is confident that he won't lay his eyes on another woman. And we are shown instances where Amminipilla's unwavering loyalty gets tested, and he aces them every time. This character trait is essential to the story as Amminipilla's rivals are constantly looking for weaknesses that they could use against him. And when the film opens, in medias res, we learn that his rivals are on the run from him after a particularly intense confrontation. The film then takes us back a few months to show what happened before all this.
OTTC is at its most entertaining when exploring the concerns of the four men who fear the repercussions from Amminipilla after they do something to him out of sheer overconfidence and haste. In fact, the overconfidence of one youngster, Podiyan (Roshan Mathew), is what lands his three friends in a hot soup. It all started when Podiyan and Vasanthi (Nimisha Sajayan) fell in love. But now, the lack of freedom is bothering them. It's slowly weakening their spirits. It's only a matter of time before one or more of Podiyan's gang begins to think that surrendering to Amminipilla and enduring a brief episode of shame isn't such a bad idea if they wish to live in eternal peace. There is also the matter of Podiyan's impending marriage to Vasanthi, which can only happen when Amminipilla has had his payback.
Some of my favourite moments from OTTC involve Biju Menon and Padmapriya as the devoted but flawed husband and wife. When the attention shifts to Podiyan and Vasanthi, it becomes less engaging. The strange thing about OTTC is that Podiyan's friends -- particularly a man who is about to don the police uniform but is terrified of Amminipilla -- are more interesting than him. There are times when I wondered why Vasanthi fell for Podiyan. The men in OTTC generally have a tricky relationship with women. Yes, these women love and worship their men, but they are also capable of taking independent decisions that get their partners worried. The men find their women to be the primary source of their strength. I particularly liked the moment where Rukmini (Padmapriya) tells Amminippilla to beat up anyone who spreads ill rumours about him. And he does a thorough job of it!
Of OTTC's technical merits, I have no doubt. But it bothers me that it often comes up lacking in the storytelling department. We have seen ego-induced rivalries done better in recent Malayalam cinema, most notably Ayyappanum Koshiyum and Driving Licence. So when OTTC explores the same themes in a lacklustre fashion, one naturally tends to get disappointed. It's a 150-min movie that feels like a 210-min movie at times. Trimming off about 15-20 minutes would've ensured a relatively smoother experience. There are quite a few hilarious moments that made me laugh out loud, but such moments are in short supply in a film that overstays its welcome after a point. It's a pity.