Itly Review: Wacky and funny, but overlong
A heist comedy involving three grandmothers involving decent comedy stretches but is too long at 150 minutes
It has been a while since we saw a heist comedy like Itly in our cinema. The film stars Saranya as Inba, Kovai Sarala as Twinkle and the late Kalpana as Lilly — three grandmothers who are known as Itly paatties. This is not only due to the acronym formed from their names but also because they make and sell idlies. It’s the sort of simplicity that keeps much of this film going.
Cast: Saranya Ponvannan, Kovai Sarala, Kalpana, Manobala
Director: RK Vidhyadaran
Inba’s granddaughter is suffering from a terminal disease and the Itly paatties try to deposit the money they have saved from their entrepreneurial venture. But the bank is robbed while they are there, and their money is lost too. While the bank is insured against theft, the manager refuses to help the three women as their money isn’t deposited at the time of robbery. So, they decide to break-in and rob the bank. This is when things begin to shape up into a crazy ride, and this is aided in large part by the all-round excellent performances.
The supporting cast includes Mansoor Ali Khan as Kazhuthu, the leader of a terrorist group that has shortlisted grandmothers and grandfathers to brainwash them into terrorism. Then there is Venniradai Moorthy, who goes by the name Jodhida Karadi and specialises in renaming people according to numerology. He changes the name of someone called Sukumar to Kusumar, and predictably this leads to jokes about farting. But the pleasant surprise is that this is one of the best running gags of the film. Two scenes that revolve around farting inside the confines of the bank are hilarious and these are not written or filmed in the usual crass way that makes you turn up your nose. There is another effective gag about a news anchor who tries to get the ground reporter to speak up in vain.
Not everything, however, is as effective. The way Lilly and her daughter-in-law’s OCD gets portrayed belittles the problem. Not all the jokes work too, like the gangster who’s named Verumandi, because he doesn’t wear any clothing.
To its credit, the film doesn’t have any fight sequences or songs, but it still is a drag at two and a half hours. With such a runtime, the jokes have to keep audiences hooked, but they are not as consistent. What also doesn’t work is the overarching plot linking the actions of all the characters. While the climax and the message is worth applauding, the path the director chooses to get there and the melodrama that the film devolves into turns it into a drag. Nevertheless, it is a breath of fresh air to see such a script being brought to life with such talent.