Veterans failing to embrace the change in narrative style have been something that we have been witnessing in the recent past in Malayalam cinema. Be it Adoor Gopalakrishnan in Pinneyum or even the total washout of someone like Shaji Kailas (someone on the other side of the spectrum), the A-listers have been struggling to cope up with the change. With Olu, I think Shaji N Karun also joins that list. With extreme melodrama getting very minimal layers of exploration, Olu is a huge let down from someone who is a master in this form of art.
Vasu is an artist. He paints mostly copied works of others to attract tourists and earn a living by selling them. He also gets an earning by being a tour guide of his ancestral property. At one point, a ghost of a girl whom the villagers address as Olu (colloquial form of Aval/she) starts to influence the creativity of Vasu and the movie shows us the rise and fall of Vasu because of his dependency on Olu.
If you assign the female ghost character the role of nature and Vasu as a representative of humanity, the movie can have an undercurrent of a metaphorical representation. But for such metaphorical aspects to crack, you need realism, subtlety and smartly crafted layering in scripting. But here things are sadly very flat. Shaji N Karun can’t make us feel the pain and struggle of the main characters. The movie might be a slow-paced one, but the way the narrative skips through phases is really fast making it really difficult for us to accept the growth of certain characters.
Shane Nigam tries his best to reduce the melodrama by making use of the slang, but there are moments he is helpless and the excessively depressing character looks monotonous. Esther Anil was a terrible choice and her performance was also weak. The school drama kind of dialogue delivery and emoting is not what you expect from the female lead of a Shaji N Karun movie. Kani was fine in her character. Actress Kanchana was excessively theatrical. Radhika who wasn’t there in mainstream cinema for a while makes a forgettable come back.
Shaji N Karun’s approach towards Olu looks very peripheral. The fantasy element in Olu demanded a treatment that could make us think about the interpretations of the film-maker. But by being overly inclined towards the pain of the hero which never gets our sympathy, Olu becomes a tedious and outdated experience. Visually also the movie disappointed me. The DI and visual effects make things look so artificial and even someone like MJ Radhakrishnan wasn’t able to convey something through visuals.
If I compare it with his contemporaries, this movie from Shaji N Karun is as bad as Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Pinneyum. And I really hope both these legends will reinvent themselves for a better and evolved form of cinema.
If I compare it with his contemporaries, this movie from Shaji N Karun is as bad as Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Pinneyum.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended