– Mani Prabhu
To make a case for the discontinuation of successful Malayalam movies getting a regional remake, Meendum Oru Kaadhal Kadhai, the Tamil edition of Vineeth Srinivasan’s Thatthathin Marayathu, could be Exhibit A. “I will marry this pretty girl someday”, says the twelve-year-old protagonist on seeing the ten-something-heroine in the opening scene of Mitran Jawahar’s version. He would eventually achieve the feat in the climax, fifteen years later, but not before frustrating you to endless limits, and if you are one of the lucky few who can doze in theatres, leaving you to snore. To put it short, it does feel like fifteen years. Fifteen long years. Of the hero closing his eyes in rhapsody and breaking into a song, every five minutes. The math is yours for the making.
The problem with MOKK, unlike most other remakes from Malayalam, is not because the film-maker tried to ‘tanglicize’ it in an attempt to make it more palatable to the masses. It’s, in fact, the opposite. He does the same film, practically again, repeating the same flaws that were there in Malayalam, but without realizing the fact that the original had a distinct local flavour, characters that merged with the milieu, organic humour in the dialogues and most importantly, an actor who could make you forget everything else with his charm and spontaneity. Here, instead we have the hero, closing his eyes and breaking into a song, even as he walks on roads, rides on bikes, and goes about his stalking routine, every five minutes. Oh wait, am I repeating myself? Well, in my defense, the pain is real, and continues to haunt every thought about the film.
Agreed, Walter Philips is not Nivin Pauly, but with a newcomer who struggles to bring the scene alive, isn’t it more of an obligation to plug all gaping crevices in the script? With almost nothing to hold our attention, what to make of the wafer thin meet-cute segments that keep dragging forever? If you are going to focus on the romance between the lead couple for the majority of the screen time, why not make it at least engaging and logical? The hero’s communist background exists in the original for a reason and if you are hell bent on retaining the same back-story for the protagonist, why not integrate it with the proceedings as in the story from the Malabar Coast? With nothing to anchor to, the premise dangles on loosely, adding nothing more to the characterization. Well, in the absence of any mood or flavour, character arcs are may be too much to ask!
Yes, there is a plot. Vinod falls for Aisha after bumping her down the stairs. He doesn’t know a thing about her. He doesn’t even get to chat with her. He doesn’t care. Instead he breaks into a song. Just the sight of half her ‘whitish’ face leaves him drooling over the thought of spending his life with her. (Read ‘sleeping with her’). He calls it ‘falling in love’. He stalks her. He again breaks into a song. He ends up in jail. When he returns, the girl, without even knowing what he does for a living, confesses her love for him. He breaks into a song. No, I am not kidding. A police-officer understands his ‘love’ (Read ‘stalking’) He sets up a purdah shop, for God knows what! And believe me, breaks into a song.
If only, we could break into the climax, as easily as that. But we are not that lucky. We are made to sit through scenes, which gradually become totally pointless. And slowly, it all becomes too-predictable-and-staged-to-even-care. Characters come to screen and leave without motives, resolving issues way too conveniently and sprouting the most inane of dialogues. The landscape, unlike the original is not even referenced, leave alone celebrated. Humour becomes crude. The traces of dramatic conflict, which were there to start with, dissolve into thin air, leaving us with a flat film that in the first place, shouldn’t have been made.