Being a true story or based on real persons can, at times, be an excuse to cover up the inability of the filmmakers to create something emotionally connecting. Otta, the debut directorial of renowned sound designer Resul Pookutty, sadly belongs to that category of films. The movie is supposed to tell the story of two men who were victims of toxic parenting. But the script was so wayward and cluttered that you just feel exhausted seeing the outdated melodramatic presentation of an unexciting story.
Hari is our main character, and he has a close friend named Ben. Hari’s father was an extremely toxic man who never showed faith in him and tried to control him at every step. Ben lived with his single mother, who practically followed him everywhere. At one point, when both of them hit a juncture where they can’t deal with their parents any longer, they decide to run away, and what we see in the movie Otta is the eventful journey of these two.
One of the main discomforts for me while I was watching this movie, was the way some of the non-Malayali actors were made to speak these tough Malayalam lines in their own voice. Kannada actress Bhavana Ramanna is given these long sentimental dialogues in the movie, and I was like, how could they approve such bad dialogue delivery. The same was true for the case of Sathyaraj. You either let him speak in Tamil or dub the whole role with someone who can easily switch between both languages. The lack of depth in establishing characters is the weakness of the movie. When we see Hari and Ben making drastic decisions in life, the movie never really shows us anything that would sort of justify their desperation to do that. Ben’s father’s reaction to his situation sounded like one of those Nithyananda guidance for issues.
Resul Pookutty, as a director, is sort of stuck in some old cliches in building drama. The sexual abuse that has been depicted on multiple occasions in the movie is so banal in terms of craft that at one point when the audience started laughing and making comments about a scene, I couldn’t really blame them as the staging of that scene was extremely shoddy. There is no enticing structure to the script written by Kiron Prabhakaran, and most of the events have a very predictable nature. The writing feels episodic at points, and the movie struggles to establish a proper conflict. There is a Kasaragod guy in the movie, and his death scene created absolutely no emotional impact, and it felt like the closure of an insignificant side track.
Asif Ali has a typical style of pulling off these characters who are in that figuring out space, and his usual way was okay for the character. Arjun Ashokan, as Ben, is trying to be that disturbed young lad. But his psychopath-like transitions were somewhat becoming unintentionally hilarious. Indrajith as Raju is a poorly written character whose arc feels inconsequential to the main track, and it felt more like a casting coupe to enhance the star value on the posters of the movie. Sathyaraj was fine when he was speaking fluent Tamil, but whenever he speaks Malayalam, it becomes something other than Tamil or Malayalam. Rohini is your typical, always-crying mom stuck between stubborn father and son. Bhavana Ramanna, as the controlling mother, never looked believable.
Many things are happening in the story at various points, and they all look pretty scattered. The core idea is relevant as the story asserts the importance of good parenting. But the creative depiction of that messaging is so bland that you will feel like talking against toxic parenting just to avoid movies like this from getting made. On two occasions, Ben says, “I have nothing to tell.” Well, that pretty much works as a short review for this dragged drama.
On two occasions, Ben says, "I have nothing to tell." Well, that pretty much works as a short review for this dragged drama.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended