Movie Review: Odiyan
Mohan Lal, Manju Warrier, Prakash Raj and others
Director - Shrikumar Menon
Producer - Antony Perambavoor
Banner - Daggubati Creations
Music - M. Jayachandran
Malayalam superstar Mohan Lal's latest film Odiyan is dubbed into Telugu with the same name. It is a fantasy thriller film directed by Shrikumar Menon.
What is it about?
Odiyan Manikyam (Mohanlal) returns from exile to his village and gets challenged by the village youth to scare them or leave the village without a trace. Odiyan accepts the challenge. But who is he? Why is everyone against him? Manikyam belongs to Odiyan clan, who has the shape-shifting abilities. He is used by people to scare their enemies for a ransom. But things go awry when Rajarao (Prakash Raj) introduces his pet Odiyan in the village.
Mohan Lal easily gets into the skin of the character and makes us believe that he is truly an Odeon. Despite the underdeveloped character, Lal shines in making us go through the emotions of his character. Although he is on the heavier side to play such an agile role, he somehow pulls it off without any trouble. Prakash Raj as the dark skinned villain is okay. Manju Warrier suits the role of a middle aged woman. Most of the supporting actors are not known to us.
Like many upcoming Malayalam directors, Shrikumar also has a tremendous grip over technical aspects. This is not an easy film to visualize and execute, but Shrikumar is successful in that aspect. However, the script is a letdown with lot of unwanted nonsense. There is so much influence of Puli Murugan (Manyam Puli) on the director.
Songs are melodious but come as speed breakers to the narrative. Background music is terrific though. Cinematography and action episodes are major plusses. VFX is alright and editing is not up to the mark. Production values are good. The film is made on a high budget for Malayalam standards.
Concept and Action scenes
Odiyan is based on the legend of the Odiyan clan from Kerala folklore. They have shape-shifting abilities and can assume animal forms according to the legend. Odiyans are said to have inhabited the Malabar region of Kerala before the widespread use of electricity. This sounds exciting on paper but the shape-shifting and assuming animal forms is not easy to execute on the screen. Debut director failed to get this right, which is the biggest weak link of all.
It is amusing that every villager is aware of Odiyan's job, but gets scared whenever he attacks them. Odiyan's shape-shifting abilities are not explored properly. These scenes should have been authentic. All that Mohan Lal does is wear a mask and makes sudden attacks on people. Use of graphics might have helped if the director treated it like a fantasy film. Perhaps the setting is too modern for such a concept.
What's even troubling is the story part, which has no substance in it. The drama looks forced as the characters act as per instructions. Manju Warrier's character is too naive and sadly she is the one who drives the film. Slow pace and lengthy run time makes Odiyan a tedious watch. Second half is better compared to the first half, but there are many portions that should have been trimmed to make it crisp.
There is so much influence of Puli Murugan on Odiyan. Especially the action part looks like a rip-off of the blockbuster action thriller. However, unlike Puli Murugan, action here looks unreal and jarring. The film is technically sound with impressive performances, but fails to keep the viewers engaged. It feels like eternity by the time it reaches climax. Makers should have trimmed the Telugu dubbed version, which could have made it way better than what it is. Fast Forward button comes in handy for anybody who cares to take a peek at Odiyan.
Verdict: The Dark Knight of Kerala!