Saturday, June 10, 2017


Release date:
Kerala: May 19, 2017. Delhi: June 9, 2017.
Rohith V.S.

Asif Ali, Bhavana, Aju Varghese, Saiju Kurup, Siddique, Kalabhavan Shajon, Rahul Madhav, Srinda  

A young man called Omanakuttan works as a telemarketer in a firm that has attracted the suspicions of a Karnataka police officer played by Kalabhavan Shajon. The cop tries to get his seniors’ permission to investigate the alleged wrongdoings of the owner (Siddique) that have resulted in the stupendous success of a haircare product called Clintonica.

Omanakuttan (Asif Ali) may be a sales wiz but he is terribly socially inept. One day when a colleague cruelly rejects his romantic overtures, he goes into a slump. His boss’ effort to boost his morale by telling him to “market” himself better has an unexpected effect on him.

He begins having telephone affairs with a string of women, hiding his true identity, adopting a different attractive persona and interesting backstory for each one. Turns out sweet, simple-looking Omanakuttan with the facial twitch has a shadowy side to his personality that you would never guess at from looking at him.

So you think, okay, this looks like it could turn out to be something intriguing about the workings of a troubled human mind. Maybe what we are seeing here will later be revealed as a figment of Omanakuttan’s imagination? Maybe he used Clintonica on himself and ended up scrambling his own brain? Maybe the entire film is taking place inside his head? Who knows. The possibilities at this point seem endless.

After a while though, it becomes clear that Adventures of Omanakuttan is far from being the edgy thriller it promises to be. It is more trying-to-be-trippy than trippy.

And it is long. Gawd, it is long!

The plot recounted so far in this review accounts for just a milli-fraction of the proceedings in the film’s 2 hours and 46 minutes running time. That is 166 minutes of stretching. That is 9,960 precious seconds of my life that I will never get back because my congenital optimism persuades me to forever hope that perhaps the next scene in a film will throw up a twist so breathtaking that the journey up to there would have been worth it, or perhaps the next scene, or the next. Nothing of the sort happens here.

Adventures of Omanakuttan has a fair share of twists and turns, but the arduous storytelling style robs them of their sheen and in time, kills all suspense.  

You get the feeling that somewhere in debutant director cum co-writer Rohith V.S.’s maze of ideas is the seed of a good, quirky, experimental concept that could have been something. The film ends up being nothing much though because of its endless wanderings.

Asif Ali is as earnest here as he always is. He works hard to immerse himself in Omanakuttan’s character, managing to effectively portray the man’s diffidence and evolution without caricaturing him. Supporting cast members Aju Varghese and Saiju Kurup brighten up the proceedings with their comic abilities, but they get too little screen time.

The brightest spark in this dreary film is Bhavana playing Pallavi, a para-psychology buff and freedom freak. The ease with which Omanakuttan enters her life makes no sense, but I am grateful she stayed on, because Bhavana – who makes even plain cotton jumpsuits look swish in this film – is such a sight for sore eyes, so wonderfully easy before the camera and born to comedy.

A passing reference to homosexuality in Adventures of Omanakuttan indicates that this is a thinking team with potential as yet unfulfilled. At one point, we discover that a significant character is gay – it is an amusing moment yet the joke is not on him but on the situation. It takes writing and acting finesse combined with intelligence and basic human decency to derive humour from a social group that others routinely stereotype without resorting to stereotyping yourself. That the actors cast as the gay men in this scene are not camp, but fit very much into prevalent notions of ‘masculinity’, reveals volumes about Rohith V.S. & Co’s atypical mindsets.

These are rare qualities and the reason why it is important not to write off the team of Adventures of Omanakuttan despite this rant. The congenital optimist in me hopes that next time they will ditch self-indulgence and develop focus. Lack of focus and discipline are what make this film a meandering misadventure.

Rating (out of five stars): 1/2

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
166 minutes

This review has also been published on Firstpost:

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