Ullam is a Malayalam web series directed by Ayillian Karunakaran and written by Dr. Zaileshia available on ManoramaMax. The five-episode web series is focusing on various cases that came in front of a psychologist. The idea here is to present various psychological conditions and make a series out of it. But apart from giving the viewer some lecture and familiarization with mental health-related terms, there is absolutely zero takeaway here.
Ullam isn’t really following a structure to narrate it as a story. Dr. Thara, a psychologist is our central protagonist. We see her attending various cases on a daily basis. Some are simplistic, some are sensitive and some are highly complicated. The series is basically showing us all these major and minor cases through those five episodes. And just to make it look like the story of a psychologist, they have created a pedophile villain whose poker face rough acting will easily crack you up.
My initial reaction to the series after watching it was that, Dr. Zaileshia might have initially had a plan to write a book based on her experiences. And the rough scratch for that book eventually ended up becoming a web series. I am assuming this theory because of the way the dialogues are written in this series. The only focus or agenda here is to present the name of the mental condition and give us some glances of the symptoms of such situations. But the series has zero ambition in being impactful to its viewer. I mean some of the dialogues are providing the viewer unintended humor.
There is a bit in the series where an actress (played by Mintu Maria Vincent) is mad at her boyfriend after she couldn’t win the state award for the best actress that year. And looking at the way she has performed in that scene, that’s one parallel universe where I don’t wish to review films. The standard of acting in the whole series is extremely mediocre. Neetha Manoj as the central protagonist gets the support of wonderful costumes here and to an extent she gets the positive body language of the psychologist character. But when it comes to expressing concerns, the expressions are all over the place. This is a character that is solving mental health-related cases by just asking various questions (almost a beta Sherlock) and there was absolutely no charm to her performance to make us believe that.
The kind of eccentric tone we see in daily soaps was evident in the performance of all actors. Director Sooraj Tom tries to play a serious version of Thalathil Dineshan in the movie and provided a lot of space for unintentional comedy and facepalm. Most of the actors in the series are not so familiar for the viewers and almost all of them are struggling really hard. Sometimes we can sense the dubbing and performance having zero emotional sync.
What is horrible about this web series is the writing of it. Everything else is in a way a byproduct of this central flaw. As I said, they just want to plug the name of some psychological condition. Presenting it in a believable or relatable context is not at all a concern it seems. Some chapters are ending abruptly without any closure. Ayillian Karunakaran is simply converting the script to a mere visual without any sign of his own. Ullam follows a visual lighting pattern that is extremely flat. Be it happy or sad, the visuals are always bright white, except for night sequences. Background score is on the conventional side and there wasn’t much the background score could contribute to an already messed up creation.
I have occasionally seen snippets of the daily soaps in our television channels. For me, Ullam is only a tad better than them, simply because of the “message-oriented” intent of the whole series. With cringe-worthy acting performances and extremely mediocre making, it was tough to sit through the whole series.
With cringe-worthy acting performances and extremely mediocre making, it was tough to sit through the whole series.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended