The romantic comedy, directed by Jeevan Jojo, tries to have variety, but for the most part the film is stuck in ancient story structures, ironically falling into the kind of ‘bracket’ the movie tries to go against.

Shane Nigam in a blue jacket and beard and Pavithra in front him with lose hair and a kurtha, smile as he stands behind her, looking aheadScreenshot from the film
Flix Review Friday, July 01, 2022 - 16:58

It looked like somebody, while watching glimpses of Jab We Met, had an idea to raise their hands and hold them like brackets, and imagine that the space in between contains chunks of arbitrary events in life. That ended up as Ullasam, the new film featuring Shane Nigam and a talented new actor, Pavithra Lakshmi. The film, a romantic comedy directed by Jeevan Jojo, tries to have variety, and some of it is enjoyable. But for the most part the film is stuck in ancient story structures, ironically falling into the kind of ‘bracket’ the movie tries to go against.

Shane is a joy to watch, clearly coming out of the typecast of the wounded young man, though here, too, he mentions a gloomy past. His character Harry appears to have traces of Jab We Met’s Geet, played by Kareena Kapoor. The kind that would think it totally fine to pry into other people’s matters inside a train, somehow miss the train along with a stranger, and a bus after it, and laugh through all of it. Pavithra’s character initially appears to be the more responsible one, but gets pulled into the excitement in Harry’s company. Conveniently, they get lost in the middle of some beautiful woods near Ooty – ones you wouldn’t mind getting lost in theoretically, except you’d panic as a regular human, without a phone or purse or even another human around.

Somehow, characters in movies that get lost in such woods are almost never panicked, they seem to just walk on in the assurance that the story has to lead them somewhere safe. In Ullasam, perhaps because of its title that means enjoyment, there is absolutely nothing to worry about – not in the deserted woods, not in a secluded house on a dark rainy night (Psycho anyone?), nor in the company of a stranger you know nothing about. You can forgive the circumstances that push them into these paths, a writer’s tool to give the two some alone time, and develop a love story. So far, they have had nothing much on offer – a man who is a big show off, a woman who is tight lipped but has a soft corner for pregnant women.

Watch: Trailer of the film

But just as you forgive this little forced setting and try to indulge in the slowly growing relationship, the background score decides to scale up, nudging you in case you didn’t notice the changing mood. Throughout the movie, the background score does not rest, shifting from sad to happy notes pretty loudly, guiding the clueless viewer around.

When the film gets out of the ‘bracket’ it describes itself as, you are to follow ‘real lives’, but it is even more puzzling than the life in the woods. You wait for the answers – why is the heroine stuck in a place she clearly doesn’t like, for one. But you don't find them. There is some momentary distraction with a bunch of characters thrown in – including a quirky one by Basil Joseph. But after that, the script goes seriously wrong, including a problematic portrayal of the queer community, the meddling into a relationship and wedding, the insensitivity towards suicide, and so on. None of it is maybe intentional, but it comes out all wrong. Ullasam, as an entertainer, could still work if it chops off those chunks from it, tone down the BGM – a lot! – and close the open ends it forgot to.

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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