Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ഒരു വടക്കൻ സെൽഫി (Oru Vadakkan Selfie) (2015)

Director: G. Prajith
Writer:   Vineeth Sreenivasan
Cast:      Nivin Pauly, Aju Varghese, Manjima Mohan, Vineeth Sreenivasan
Language: Malayalam

Umesh (Nivin Pauly) is a careless engineering student who has 42 papers to clear (സപ്പ്ളി ). As pressure mounts on him to assist his father in their retail shop, he decides to flee to Chennai in order to pursue his film directing aspirations. On the train he meets his neighbor girl (Manjima Mohan), on whom he has a crush, and takes a selfie without her knowledge and whatsapp it to his friend (Aju Varghese). That action leads to a lot of unintended consequences like him being accused of kidnapping her and it is up to him and his friend to find her in Chennai to clear their name. To assist them in their investigation is a private detective (Vineeth Sreenivasan).

Am not really a fan of Vineeth Sreenivasan and didn't last more than thirty minutes when I tried  to watch two of his directed films: 'Thattathil Marayathu' and 'Thira'. Admittedly those watching efforts were on TV and because of the ads it might not be entirely his fault that I didn't find the necessary patience to finish those films and make a more informed judgement. This film, whose title translates as 'A Northern Selfie', was written by him and as is common in films of Nivin Pauly and the likes, there is an element of exploiting nostalgia to create comedy around it. Engineers who did Engineering like we all did just for the sake of it are the butt of all jokes these days. I am waiting for the same to happen with B-Tech MBAs in films. The script is not very smooth in terms of the quality of writing and there is an element of doing comedy sketches on back of a bare to bones plot structure. Still there are plenty of laughs to be had until around two thirds into the film after which it becomes too contrived and uninteresting. It is common in Indian films to cram all sorts of things into a film and that is why you get comedy mixed with seriousness mixed with song and dance routines mixed with romantic angle, action sequences etc in a single film. The idea is to please all idiots who are watching it some way or the other.  In this one there is a tonal shift from comedy to seriousness which the writer/director totally fails to do properly. Early Siddique Lal films are perfect examples for doing this in a smooth manner, and these days, lazy ass directors use cringe worthy twists to do the transition. They could have easily continued with the comedic angle throughout the film to tell the same story without it being as jarring as this. No, they had to take what felt like a social study class on the phenomenon of cyber financial fraud so that they could broaden the audience and be socially responsible. The tear-jerk dialog delivered by the actress drew laughs from the audience and the expositions were really terrible.

To sum up, it is a film of three halves (up to Chennai, Chennai, post Chennai) with the first two being very watchable as a comedy film even though there is a comedy skit feel to the whole thing. The last third of the film is laughably bad. There are some very avoidable songs in it, which is the norm in Indian films, and they could have easily done the whole under two hours instead of the 150 minutes running time it has. Hell, they could have very well done away with the last third of the film entirely without much loss and you would have come out of it far more satisfied. Considering the dearth of quality Malayalm films these days, it will do very well at the box office and I do recommend it as a goodish one time watch. 

Rating: 2.5/5 (rounded down from 2.667)