'Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu' review: Pranav's action flick lacks conviction

Pranav could possibly handle stronger roles in the future but he lacks conviction as Appu, a shortcoming you stop noticing when the heroine appears as a sad stereotype.
'Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu' review: Pranav's action flick lacks conviction
'Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu' review: Pranav's action flick lacks conviction
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In the opening credits, Pranav Mohanlal’s last name comes first and stays there for a whole moment before the first name quietly gets added. It is his second film, Pranav’s, but it seems filmmakers still like to introduce him through his star dad. The first teaser of Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu showed Pranav step out of a car, wearing Rayban sunglasses, and folding his mundu, a style Mohanlal had once made popular. The rest of the movie has nothing to do with this look, and it appears that the teaser was released just to create a certain impression. Even the title is a derivation of one of Mohanlal’s popular action movie of the '80s, Irupatham Noottaandu. But director Arun Gopy had earlier said that it is not a sequel, and he has kept his word.

Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu is more a love story, pepped of course with plenty of action from the young actor who only recently proved his acrobatic skills with Aadhi, his first film. But while he keeps his word, Arun Gopy doesn’t live up to the reputation he made with his first film, Ramaleela – which came dipped in controversies, with the lead actor Dileep just out on bail after being arrested in the rape case of a fellow actor. The movie had won appreciation from certain quarters even though it seemed like a defense for the lead actor.

In his second film, Arun Gopy shapes a character called Appu, who, on the surface, seems far away from the characters that Mohanlal has played. So, even when Appu’s dad Baba (Manoj K Jayan) would like to see him grow up as a “don” in Goa, the careful son likes a quiet life without trouble. He plays a surfing inspector, who offers peaceful ways to settle old debts of his dad, and does not take up the “quotations” (local slang used for beating up someone for money) that his dad very lovingly brings him. Even these first scenes are loud with amateur acting and badly scripted lines.

Except when he is doing his stunts (quite a bit in the sea this time), Pranav lacks the conviction to play a strong character like Appu. But you stop noticing this shortcoming when the heroine of the film appears. Zaya (played by Zaya David) is everything that south Indian cinema loves to stuff into the stereotype of a heroine – cracking absolutely meaningless and unfunny "jokes", appearing overly daring and especially enthusiastic when it comes to jumping walls at midnight for some crazy desire that the hero agrees to do for her, getting into all sorts of trouble and looking at the camera like she’s done something absolutely adorable. The only saving grace through these scenes in the first half is the funny friend Appu has – Macroni (Abhishek Raveendran) – who seems to be the only sane voice, telling them to stop and think before each stupid act, but who is told to shut up.

Appu, of course, falls in love with this daring and divine beauty. And she, of course, disappears so that the rest of the movie can be shot in Kerala. And all the action the movie lacked in the first half because Appu was the careful son, is more than made up in the second. In fact, all the classic elements of action are there – endless chases, breaking of things, stunts on the road, even stunts on a moving train. Only this time, Peter Hein’s (stunt director) magic lacks impact, with most of the train stunts looking childishly PhotoShopped. Another classic repetition of the old formula is to keep the heroine who was seen overly talkative in the first half, suddenly muted.

Arun does try to add a lot of current affairs and socially relevant ideas. He creates characters to address child abuse (Zaya David), hail communism (Gokul Suresh in a short role), despise abusive priests (Siddique and Innocent), talk of communal harmony (a lot of them),  bash fake news (himself). But that would have been more appreciable had they not been presented like props to give out a message. The music (Gopi Sunder) tries in vain to create impact with some metal guitar playing in the background.

Pranav’s character is the kind given to established actors, who’ve made a name for themselves, and can afford an occasional superhero role. He’s just begun, and you want to tell him to start slow, and pick up the threads one by one like his dad or any other popular actor had to, while reaching where they did. 

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film’s producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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