“Irupatham Noottandu” (20th Century) was made in 1987 with Mohanlal, directed by K. Madhu and written by SN.Swamy. It turned out to be a cult classic and broke several records. In 2009, Amal Neerad directed “Sagar Alias Jacky” with Mohanlal, which was inspired by the character he played in "Irupatham Noottandu" which also turned out to be a stylish blockbuster. So when you have a title related to the earlier film and get Mohanlal’s son Pranav to play the lead, the expectations are going to be sky high. It’s also interesting that Pranav did a cameo in the end credit song in "Sagar Alias Jacky". “Irupathiyonnaam Noottandu” (21st century) is directed by Arun Gopy whose debut "Ramaleela" was a hit. The first look posters of the film was released by Mohanlal himself. The trailer was released only on 22nd Jan18 and had mixed feedback online. Some were not convinced with Pranav’s performance in the emotional scenes. But then, he is just 2 films old. We all know how some actors were in their early films be it Fahad, Kunchakko Boban or even Vijay and Surya.
First things first, this is no “Irupathaam Nootandu” and got nothing to do with the Mohanlal's film. It’s a love story laced with action (towards the end) and touches on some sensitive issues in our society. The first half of the film is set in Goa. Baba (played by Manoj K Jayan, supposedly an old time don of the area) is going through a bad patch after he stopped all illegal activities. He owes some money to the local don Abusi ka (Kalabhavan Shajon in a wasted role). Baba insists his son Appu (Pranav Mohanlal) to take up smuggling, which he refuses. Appu along with his friend Macroni (Abhishek Ravindran) earn their living by guiding the tourists and helping them with beach sports. They are also shown having a shack attached to their house along the beach side. During the new-year party, Appu meets up with Zaya (Rachael David/ Zaya David) who comes to Goa for sight-seeing. She ends up staying for rent in Appu’s place and they eventually fall in love. But the moment Appu proposes to her, she decides to leave and goes back to Kerala.
The rest of the film deals with how Appu goes to Kerala and gets her back. The first half of the film is a breeze. The soothing beaches and locales of Goa is shot beautifully (Cinematographer - Abhinandan Ramanujam). The scenes between the lead pair along with the locations give a fresh feel to the entire narration. Both Rachael and Pranav perform very well here. Infact Rachael reminded me of Nazriya Nazim in many scenes. It could also be the character she plays, but she does emote well. The director gives us a jolt in the interval block and makes us think how the movie will move forward. It’s here director Arun Gopy misses the plot. The reason why Zaya does not reciprocate his feelings just sticks out like a sore thumb in an action oriented romantic film. The director also gives a flashback to justify the same. He also has some scenes in the first half to substantiate it, but then it would have helped if the film was a complete drama without mass elements.
As you wonder what Peter Hein was doing in this film, it suddenly switches gear and moves in to an action template (like Jeyam or Run in Tamil). While the thrilling moments towards the end are scripted well, it lacked the punch on the screen - blame it on the CG work and the exaggeration. The train fight in the end was very bad graphics. They could have shot the entire sequence on a real moving train in the location or spent more on the CG work. Not sure if a film Colorist could have helped it, but then it just takes away the ingenuity of the film. Gopi Sundar as usual elevates the film to another level with his background score and beautiful songs. Gokul Suresh (Suresh Gopi's son) plays an interesting cameo in the end.
There was a time when most of the directors in Malayalam depended on the latest boiling controversies in the state – be it political or based on society, to develop the story. “Irupathiyonnaam Noottandu” also has some inclination. The film may get into troubles for the religious connotations. They also take a dig at the Franco (can’t address him Bishop till he is proved clean) case in two instances – one when Macroni says “When I saw someone jumping the walls of the convent, I thought it must be the bishop” and another scene in the end where the Bishop (played by Innocent) says to a rapist – “It’s the confessions of people like you which make the priests go bad”. To add to this, the director has another priest character (played by Siddique) who is completely against the church ideologies (but more human and believes in love).
Pranav did look vulnerable in his first film “Aadhi” but here he is at ease in most of the scenes. He has one of the most innovative and mass introductions seen in recent movies – surfing the seas beautifully in boxers. He is flexible and does some decent stunts and acrobatics. Though he says proudly in the film “My dad’s history is his story, I have to make my ends meet”, he still can’t avoid his dad’s histrionics in more than couple of scenes. For eg: the one where they escape from the casino. He also rocks the Che-Guevara look which am sure will bring the hall down in Kerala. And to add to the galleries, he takes a dig at Dulquer too and has a scene in Dhoti (similar to what Dulquer does in CIA).
Have you heard about the saying – “Operation success, Patient died”? In the end, you leave the theater with this kind of feeling. The biggest disappointment being the title of the film. It has no connection to the movie and will disappoint everyone who came to watch an underworld action thriller. With a better promotion (focusing on the romantic and action sequences) and few corrections, this film could have done Pranav Mohanlal what “Jeyam” did to Jeyam Ravi or what “Run” did to R Madhavan. But it falls short. Nevertheless, “Irupathiyonnaam Nottandu” is an average one-time watch.
Rating - 2.5 / 5