Mohanlal and Meena play young parents to Prithviraj, who has also directed the film.

Mohanlal and Prithviraj facing opposite directions and smaller images of other actors are contained in a mirror in this blue poster
Flix Review Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 15:22
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* Review contains a few spoilers

Good things first. It is swell that Mohanlal willingly played dad to a grown-up son, a man in his 30s with a job and a girlfriend and a ponytail. Prithviraj, who plays the son and has directed the movie, has made every effort to make it clear that the dad, and the mom too – played by Meena – are really too young. Right from the titles to the end of the film. But the film, which offers some enjoyable moments and an interesting storyline, slips and falls too many times. Bro Daddy has too many bumps to cross on the way to reach a good place.

Mohanlal, in his bearded form of the present, first appears at the end of an ad about his steel bar plant (after a dig at dramatic television reporting). There is no slow motion entry, no top to bottom close-ups, not even a dramatic tune. But the movie began with him in cartoon form, animated pictures of his younger self – too young we are told through speech bubbles popping out of passers-by. A song, pleasing to the ear (music by Deepak Dev), in Mohanlal and Prithviraj’s voices, plays in the background. And everywhere cartoon Mohanlal and wife go – people point out, but they are too young. By the time they have a baby, and another speech bubble pops out, you are almost sure the baby would say, but dad you’re too young for me.

Bro Daddy begins with this premise and you are prepared for the story of a son raised by really young parents. But the youngness of the parents is there for more than one reason. One is of course to explain the “blasphemous” casting of a superstar as the dad of an adult (fans are notorious for being unforgiving if their supertstar is shown in unflattering roles). The other is to back the main storyline – (small spoiler alert here) – the parents are young enough to be parents again.

The movie begins by obeying conventions and a series of introductions follow the titles. Mohanlal, in his most casual self, introduces the wife and the son to the parish priest. Meena enters as if on cue from behind the curtain to the stage, bearing a tray of coffee (coffee is a repeating prop in the movie, and used well for comedy). All through the film, sadly, that’s pretty much all Meena’s character has to do. Play the picture-book wife and mother she’s been dressed up for, uttering ‘Ayo Eeshoye’ (Oh Christ) or smiling warmly when prompted.

Eesho, by the way, is the son’s name, the Malayalam term for Jesus. Predictably there are many lines connecting Lord Jesus to the ponytailed human version. Human Eesho works in a reputed ad company in Bengaluru, looks down upon the local ad business of his father’s bosom buddy (Lalu Alex in a nice lengthy role for a change), has a carefree life filled with friends and parties and a girlfriend. Prithviraj actually gets the bottom to top treatment of the slow-panning camera, reserved for superstars.

Watch: Trailer of Bro Daddy

Kalyani Priyadarshan is also introduced in those first few scenes of rapid introductions. These shots are so amateur that you imagine a playwright standing behind a curtain and pushing each character out, “go, now”. Kalyani is an IT professional in Bengaluru dodging repeated pleas of marriage proposals from her parents (Lalu Alex and Kaniha). It could have been a very relatable situation for young women if only the dialogues did not sound so artificial.

That’s what mostly works against the film, the artificiality of it all. It need not have slow-paced sequences or even close to life situations, but you expect the script to carry some conviction. Perhaps it happened with the attempts to bring a lot of comedy into the script and often failing. A part played by Soubin Shahir, a gifted actor, is exclusively written for humour and more often than not it only works to disrupt the flow and brings little laughter.

But there are some moments of easy humour. Like Prithviraj’s drunken scene towards the end of the film, which he does adorably well.

At one point when the film tries to shed its light-heartedness and throw in a message, it seems to be one against abortion. Though not blatantly stated, at least twice the film highlights the “life inside the womb” when abortion as an option is suggested. Then there is the room full of newborns, often used in old Malayalam films when someone is confused about having babies, to change the mind of the one who suggested abortion. This part – though not the premise of the film – appears to be in sharp contrast to last year’s Sara’s which strongly stated that abortion is a woman’s choice and underlined her rights over her body. Perhaps to avoid any controversy, Bro Daddy’s women are themselves the anti-abortion warriors, so there is no question of silencing women’s rights.

The movie does take a lenient stand towards live-in relationships and premarital sex and even pregnancy in unwed women. It is also rich with some noticeable performances. Mohanlal, throughout the film, is free and funny and wonderful to watch (except for a few clichés during songs). There are short appreciable performances by Mallika Sukumaran, Jagadish and Jaffer Idukki. If only the movie didn’t try so hard to be funny, avoided the many clichés and completely chucked the artificiality of it all, it would have been more enjoyable.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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