In the last decade, the movies featuring Mohanlal and Mammootty, especially the mass masala films, had this fanboy tribute nature. And my personal favorite among those attempts was Lucifer. In Aaraattu, director B Unnikrishnan and writer Udaykrishna shows you the worst possible fanboy creation. When Stephen Nedumpally says Narcotics is a dirty business, the transition was silky smooth. In Aaraattu, when Mohanlal says dialogues from his filmography, occasionally spoofing them, one could clearly sense the creative scarcity. There are too many sequences in the first half of Aaraattu that felt like the Vadivelu comedy in Tamil movies, something that never affected the main plot.
The story is set in this village in Palakkad, where the Panchayat plans to encourage farming. But a prominent family who owns a vast majority of farmland in the Panchayat was standing against it. When the Panchayat decided to tackle them legally, the family decided to take help from a third party. Thus arrive Neyyattinkara Gopan into the picture. What happens after his arrival is what we see in Neyyattinakara Gopante Aaraattu.
The simplest review I can give for Aarattu is that Aaraattu for Mohanlal fans is what Shylock is for Mammootty fans. If your favorite hero walking in slow motion, saying filmography-based dialogues back to back, fight sequences showing his flexibility, etc., are enough for you to forgive the sheer absence of an original idea and insufferable humor, then Aaraattu is surely that entertainer you are looking for. There is a sequence in the movie where a bedridden Balettan (played by Indrans) wakes up from his bed (to the surprise of everyone) when Neyyattinkara Gopan sings Thamarappoovil Vaazhum from Chandralekha. A couple of days ago, I heard Editor Ranjan Abraham saying he would even fight with the director to cut an entire sequence if it wasn’t working for the film. If Shameer Muhammed had the same policy, the duration of Aaraattu would have been much small, and the experience would have been less excruciating.
There is this desperation to justify that the movie should be considered as an over-the-top masala. The film’s end title saying “Unrealistic” is all part of that safety measure. Pulling off an over-the-top concept is not an easy thing, even if you have someone like Mohanlal at the center of it. And Aaraattu can be shown as an example of that. B Unnikrishnan and Udaykrishna are struggling to have something for the first half. Thus they are only thinking about pleasing that fan who would book a ticket for an early morning show. Rocket launchers blasting trucks, and someone from Kottayam becoming a dreaded Don on a global level, etc., are also “unrealistic,” but when it is part of a clear and solid screenplay with less star-driven dilution, it feels convincing.
Aaraattu is desperate to celebrate Mohanlal. Be it Narasimham, Aaram Thampuran, or even Lucifer, the sequences in those movies formed a story that one can even narrate to other people. If you try to narrate the story of Aaraattu to someone, you will realize how much pointless footage is there in this movie. The second half Salaam Kashmir twist and the drama happening behind the AR Rahman show kind of exposed the creative laziness of the makers. Vijay Ulaganath’s cinematography is treating the movie more like an ad film. I feel B Unnikrishnan decided on the visual language of this movie after watching big-budget Telugu films. The background score is peppy and serves the purpose for sure.
Mohanlal looks great in this film, and yes, his slow-motion shots are a treat to watch. But they have overdone almost every sequence in the movie. In certain scenes, you will like him in the beginning portions. But as the scene progresses, you will feel the irrelevance of the whole thing, and Mohanlal’s vivaciousness would feel like an annoyance. Multiple members in the star cast are there just for the sake of creating a wider market. Shraddha Srinath plays the role of the RDO. KGF fame Ramachandra Raju appears for 10 minutes to get beaten up by Mohanlal. For the Telugu market, we have Prabhakar. Vijayaraghavan appears in a prominent role. We have seen the character in Udaykrishna’s films a zillion times. Sidhique gets a pointless police officer role, and initially, that character was actually funny. Late actor Nedumudi Venu was there in a typical role. Nandu, Kochu Preman, Rachana Narayanankutti, Swasika, Ashwin Kumar, Lukman etc are the other cast members.
Aaraattu feels like a large-scale gimmick where the makers are trying to crowd the viewer with numerous subplots so that they won’t really see the hollowness of the script. Every genre needs timely reinvention, and by reinvention, I don’t mean the enhanced technical quality of the camera used to shoot the film. Aarattu is a 3 hour long Linto Kurian tribute video.
Every genre needs timely reinvention, and by reinvention, I don't mean the enhanced technical quality of the camera used to shoot the film. Aarattu is a 3 hour long Linto Kurian tribute video.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended