Allu Ramendran Review: Fresh ideas, but formulaic execution
Kunchacko Boban shines in the role of a police constable trying to handle an infuriating predicament
It is nice to see Kunchacko Boban in a serious role once again after the bunch of goody-two-shoes characters he was seen in lately. If you are among those who thought his recent characters looked and sounded the same, you may find his character in Allu Ramendran a welcome change. It's a role that reminded me a lot of Mammootty's 'Hitler' Madhavankutty, and Kunchacko is very convincing as the police constable driven nuts by an unforeseen situation which has disrupted his mental state and dealt a huge blow to his ego.
Cast: Kunchacko Boban, Krishna Shankar, Aparna Balamurali, Chandini Sreedharan
A few of the ideas at the core of Allu Ramendran are noticeably fresh and they bring with them different narrative possibilities, but that alone will not help if the overall execution is formulaic. An unseen character wants to pay Ramendran back for ruining a potentially life-improving opportunity, and as a result, Ramendran is pulling his hair out trying to figure out who is doing it and why. (I'm keeping things intentionally vague in order to not spoil the primary and secondary conflicts in the film.) We saw what Ramendran did and we know it wasn't intentional; he just happened to do the wrong thing at the wrong time, and subsequently earns the 'Allu' tag. The culprit isn't a bad guy either. He, too, like Ramendran, was caught in a desperate situation. When their paths collide, it's awkwardness for both parties.
It's an intriguing set-up and the film keeps us continually guessing the identity of the culprit, but once the revelation is made -- in a (mandatory?) pre-interval twist -- it becomes easy to predict where things are going. Moments that seem fresh and funny at first glance don't seem so on closer inspection: they are nothing but variations of things we have seen previously in superior films. Also, the central conflict doesn't seem that serious. Couldn't a simple face-to-face conversation resolve it? But, I guess, Ramendran's ego wouldn't let him pursue that option.
And then there are moments that seem like last-minute additions. A dance sequence and a wedding song, for example. I recall at least four recent Malayalam films which have a wedding song in them. Is this a new trend? A few comedy stretches courtesy of Salim Kumar and Dharmajan are smile-worthy, but that's about it. Also, is it really necessary to put Hareesh Kanaran and Salim Kumar in every single film that comes out? They are remarkable comedians, no doubt, but what's the point in including them if the lines written for them aren't that funny?
The central thread of Allu Ramendran brings to mind a short film I saw recently called Vishuddha Ambrossey. Incidentally, its creator, Girish AD, is one of the co-writers of Allu Ramendran. The conflict in the two films are similar, but what worked beautifully in the former doesn't quite create the desired impact in the latter. Vishuddha Ambrossey's short runtime worked to its advantage, and it makes you wonder if the subject of Allu Ramendran really needed to be packaged into a 2-hour feature. But, for a debut attempt, I wouldn't call it too bad.