Oru Naal Varum Image Credit: Supplied

Oru Naal Varum

Cast Mohanlal, Sreenivasan, Sameera Reddy, Devayani

Director T K Rajeev Kumar

Rating U

Southern Indian cinema is beginning to tackle socially provocative subjects. In recent months, Tamil cinema lambasted the way young boys and girls were being mistreated and made to work in miserable conditions in a huge Chennai store. In another instance, it highlighted the importance of keeping folk culture and art alive. Malayalam cinema appears to have taken a cue from Kollywood, and in director T K Rajeev Kumar's Oru Naal Varum, corruption and bribery have been woven into the story. The moral is underlined and the message clear.

Gopikrishnan (Sreenivasan) is an assistant town planning officer, who wants to amass illegal wealth in order to pay the huge bribe for his daughter's admission to a medical college. His wife (Devayani) is blissfully unaware of her husband's mission. Running parallel to this is Sukumaran's (Mohanlal) angst in trying to get a town planning certificate to build his house.

Gopikrishnan is not going to give him that piece of paper without a price. Sukumaran has other demons to grapple with: estranged from his wife (Sameera Reddy), he is embroiled in a nasty custody battle for his daughter.

Both Mohanlal and Sreenivasan are seasoned actors who keep us engaged with their little duel, each convinced that his mission is ethical and fair.

While, Sreenivasan's Gopikrishnan justifies his ruthless method as the only way he can give his daughter a decent education, and place her on firm footing, Mohalal's Sukumaran, who is fighting to be with his daughter, finds it difficult to understand another's father's pain and concern. Their paths cross and clash. The theme is engagingly relevant but the script flounders.

It is never clear why Sukumaran and his wife are so bitter about each other. On the other hand, Gopikrishnan's cunning manipulation - with him even making the anti-corruption officers seem like a bunch of fools on several occasions - fails in the end. Strangely, the shrewd town planning officer is made to look like a fool in the climax!

The script is arguably the weakest one written by Sreenivasan. Contrived situations make this movie quite average, despite interesting performances by the two leading actors.