Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Release date:
February 1, 2019

Kunchacko Boban, Krishna Shankar, Aparna Balamurali, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sreenath Bhasi, Salim Kumar, Hareesh Perumana, Assim Jamal, Kochu Preman, Chandni Sreedharan

A split-second, blinkered decision by one man wreaks havoc in another’s life.

The victim sets out to take revenge.

His unusual vendetta has a ripple effect that could, though he does not realise it, destroy multiple lives including his own.

His primary target avenges the harm done.

Gentleman No. 2 strikes back.

And so it threatens to go on, and on and on and on.

At a macro level, director Bilahari’s Allu Ramendran is a reminder that even our most seemingly minor actions have consequences that could be far graver and more far-reaching than we realise. At a micro level it is about Ramendran (played by Kunchacko Boban), a policeman and designated driver at his police station, who finds the tyres of his official and personal vehicles repeatedly getting punctured. This obviously leads to chaos in his life and messes up the schedules of the colleagues he transports around. Much to his chagrin, he also earns the nickname Allu (Spikes/Nails) Ramendran in his town.

With humongous nails showing up on road after road down which Ramendran drives, it becomes evident that these are not accidental occurrences. Who done it then? And why?

Bilahari, who drew attention for making a feature film called Porattamon a budget of just Rs 25,000 in 2017, has his hands firmly on the reins through most of this unconventional storyline. Allu Ramendran takes time to get into the groove, but once it does, it is an unexpectedly interesting and thought-provoking experience.

A flat tyre in ordinary circumstances does not count as a tragedy, but it certainly always is a terrible inconvenience. Now imagine how you would be impacted if you got 35 flat tyres within a short stretch of time. Imagine the harm to your career from work associates considering you, at the very least, an ill omen. Imagine the psychological stress of consequently constantly being aware that someone out there is out to get you yet has, for reasons known to them alone, chosen not to cross a self-laid line.  Would you be reduced to a mental wreck wondering what they will do next or how far they will go? Ramendran, for his part, becomes fixated on finding out who is doing this to him.

This is not the stuff that suspense sagas are usually made of, and it takes a special kind of person to envision a full-length feature in this concept. It is worth noting, anyway, that though what is happening to Ramendran is puzzling, the writers and Bilahari do not treat the narrative purely as a thriller but combine the mystery with a slice-of-reality tone and insights into everyday life in Ramendran’s community.

My favourite part of Allu Ramendran is when two men fight over the sister of one of them that the other is in love with. “I will not give you my sister,” says the brother with a proprietorial attitude that is so typical of how women are viewed by their families in a patriarchal society. Cut to the next scene, and the lady in question has made her choice, in defiance of her male sibling’s wishes. It is hard not to chuckle at the point being made here by the writers.

Although Allu Ramendran flows naturally for the most part, the film shooting scene featuring actor Neeraj Madhav and director Nadirshah feels superfluous, and comes across as an excuse to stuff a song and dance interlude into the proceedings. This is not the kind of film that needs that kind of break. Allu Ramendran is more in the league of the likes of Maheshinte Prathikaram in terms of tenor, and should have stayed true to itself all the way.

The writing of Ramendran is convincing, as is the second lead Jithu (played by Krishna Shankar), an unemployed youth who hangs about with friends, plays football for a local club, and pursues a feisty college goer called Swathy (Aparna Balamurali) when he falls for her.

The screenplay is dotted with quirky supporting characters, the quirkiest of the lot being Jithu’s slightly wacko older female relative who is the exact opposite of being the voice of his conscience. They are a believable lot. The only exception is Swathy. She is a spirited creature who knows her mind but it comes across as a stretch when she lashes out at a dear relative and continues to hold a grudge against him for punishing Jithu for certain truly unconscionable behaviour. It is not as though these two have shared a deep, long-standing friendship – this is one of those boy-girl relationships popular among Malayalam film writers where the only thing a couple have going for them is that they saw each other, and he told her he likes her. For an intelligent, bright young woman to risk her everything for this tenuous and fledgling bond, be willing to turn her back on that beloved relative and even leave her family if required, as she assures Jithu she will for him, seems improbable. Yet she does.

The saving grace is that Swathy is played by Aparna Balamurali who is impossible to look away from even when she is cast in an inadequately written part.

The other under-written character is Ramendran’s wife. The only one of the supporting players whose acting is problematic is Salim Kumar, who overacts here, as he often does elsewhere.

Krishna Shankar is effective as the second lead, managing to bring out both the comicality and seriousness of Jithu’s circumstances.

Kunchacko Boban in Allu Ramendran plays a man who is a far cry from his real-life nice-guy image. The titular character is not particularly likeable, and becomes increasingly less so as his obsession with tracing his harasser rises. Boban’s look and styling in themselves are interesting, the receding hairline setting him apart from his seniors in the industry who are struggling to come to terms with their age. Boban embraces the role with both hands, giving Ramendran a menacing edge at places, and suggesting, without overstating the point, that he is on the verge of falling apart.

It is a pleasure to see this fine actor in a role that is deserving of him.

Rating (out of five stars): **3/4

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
135 minutes 

This review has also been published on Firstpost:

Poster courtesy:

No comments:

Post a Comment