An International Local Story Review: A passable comedy of errors
This is not the sort of film that sticks with you, but an ample amount of fun can be had with it if you have the patience for it
At one point in An International Local Story, a senior police officer (Baiju) tells a character not to interrupt him because he is busy trying to make sense of a confusing development which he likens to the climax of an old Priyadarshan film. By that point, we are as confused as Baiju, and he simply seems to be echoing our thoughts.
I'm not revealing the name of that Priyadarshan film, but Harisree Asokhan's directorial debut has so many things going on in it that we can't help but think of old Priyadarshan and Siddique-Lal comedies, which featured amusing characters in interesting sub-plots waiting to be neatly resolved in the climax. This film, however, cannot be included in the same league as films like Mazha Peyyunnu Madhalam Kottunnu or Ramji Rao Speaking because the laughs are few and far between, and you're bombarded with new developments before you have even finished pondering the significance of the ones that came before.
Director: Harisree Ashokan
Cast: Rahul Madhav, Manoj K Jayan, Dharmajan, Baiju
It opens with an intriguing sequence in Malaysia involving shady businessmen and menacing gangsters. One of them seems to be after the diamonds which are in the possession of a Malayali businessman (Nandhu) who, just days after landing in Kerala, loses his memory due to a brain injury. Only he knows where he hid the diamonds, and there is no guarantee of him ever going back to normal. Flash forward to several decades and he still hasn't regained his memory. His three grown-up sons (played by Manoj K Jayan, Tini Tom, and John Kaippallil) are now big shots themselves, and they wait with bated breath for their dad tell them about the whereabouts of the diamonds. Will the old man get back his memory or not?
While that is happening on one side, on the other side, there is Rahul (Rahul Madhav), a newly graduated doctor, whose friends (played by Deepak Parambol, Dharmajan, and Bijukuttan) work as light and sound technicians. Rahul's love life gets complicated when an astrologer (Innocent in a cameo) starts babbling about planetary alignments and auspicious timings. For once, it is nice to see Rahul let his hair down in a role that's different from the brooding, mentally troubled or negative characters he usually plays. This mama's boy is a goody-two-shoes who is thrown into circumstances he is not used to.
The film is too caught up with Rahul's plot strand -- in addition to a minor conflict involving the senior cop and Nandhu's sons -- to pay much heed to the diamonds story. And there are two plot strands which end so abruptly that you wonder why they had to be included in the first place. When the dreaded gangster from Malaysia, who terrified Nandhu in the opening scenes, finally lands in Kerala, you wonder why it took him so many decades to get here. Did he lose his memory too? Also, how does a girl suddenly decide to get married to the guy whose proposal she had rejected earlier? There is no reasonable explanation given for this unexpected development and it sticks out like a sore thumb.
But having said that, Asokhan somehow manages to keep things moving, and, if anything, he proves that he is a fairly skilled director. He has only begun, and one expects he'll get better with his next directorial. I'm grateful to him for having the good sense to keep the film's runtime at two hours, unlike some mediocre comedies made recently which are needlessly stretched beyond an endurable level. Though this is not the sort of film that sticks with you, an ample amount of fun can be had from it, if you've got the patience for it.