‘Ittymaani: Made in China’ review: Tired old formula wastes talented actors

Mohanlal plays a man who runs a business making duplicates and Radikaa, his next door neighbour, neglected by her kids.
‘Ittymaani: Made in China’ review: Tired old formula wastes talented actors
‘Ittymaani: Made in China’ review: Tired old formula wastes talented actors
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Debutant directors Jibi and Joju obviously did not want to take any risks. When they decided to make an entertainer with Mohanlal at the centre of it, they took every little ingredient out of the jars left behind by master chefs – read popular film directors – before them, and poured them all over the script:

Middle-aged man looking to get married: one
A really young woman falling for man above: one too many
Sidekicks: a few
Puns: Quite a bit in very bad taste
Drama: many spoonsful
Sentiments: many more spoonsful 
Moral values: a big one

What they newly added is a dose of old women to get that last ingredient right, the element of taking care of one’s parents. But to reach there, the film not only falls back on a bunch of really tired old formulae – and it doesn’t forget any one of them – it also does it very poorly, with very sad attempts at making Mohanlal do a role like the ones he did 30 years ago, supposedly humorous and supposedly heroic.

The China part of the name is to establish that our hero, Ittymaani, runs a business making duplicates like the many ‘Made in China’ products popular in Kerala. He was born in China to dad Mohanlal. Dad Mohanlal dies and son Mohanlal becomes the crude businessman, who takes a commission from the doctors for his own mother’s (KPAC Lalitha) treatment. All his mother wants is for him to get married and promptly every Sunday, Ittychan takes out his ambulance – one he bought for his dad’s memory – and goes to meet a girl, who he hopes would pay him a good dowry. Honey Rose, plays one of the girls in line, a nurse in London, who smiles shyly over the webcam as soon as she sees Ittymaani. If there is any question here, please refer to the recipe above.

Radikaa Sarathkumar playing Annama, Mohanlal’s next door neighbour, was once his heroine 34 years ago. In 34 years, she has aged to play a 65-year-old mother of three, neglected by the kids she loves so much: Sijoy Varghese, Swasika, Vinu Mohan and Kailash play some lame roles here.

In 34 years, however, Mohanlal continues to be the ‘young man’. That’s what acting is, of course, you don’t need to play your age. 

Only, age becomes important in this script because it relies heavily on an older woman marrying a younger man. When Annama decides to marry a second time, the whole town has a problem with it. A good part of the script is spent on saying a 60 something widow re-marrying is so terrible and shameful that it then has to spend another good part to ‘explain’ her act.

‘Jokes’ are sprinkled all over the film, with Mohanlal exchanging lines with his sidekick Aju Varghese, the doctor (Ashokan), the comic antagonist (Hareesh Kanaran), a dealer visiting him (Sekhar Menon), a marriage broker and just about everyone who passes by. Remember that feeling you get when you crack a really poor joke and no one laughs but looks pathetically at you? Imagine being that person for 158 minutes. That is your script for Ittymaani. If poor jokes are not enough, there are the puns aimed at everything from the size of nuts to the Me Too movement to an older woman’s ‘drive’. Quite a joy ride.

The only joke that works is in a scene where Mohanlal talks to the new priest in town, played by Siddique, and laughs helplessly at the old memory of sharing a room with him at a de-addiction centre, begging for a peg of liquor. There you catch a glimpse of the old spark that made Mohanlal a wonder actor who could be as versatile as an ambidextrous chameleon. The rest of the script, however, makes you forget that. It’s nice that Radikaa is not wasted in the background as just another mother, but her ‘bold’ move does not stand out as anything spectacular.

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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