Priyadarshan joins hands with his best friend and one of India's best actors, Mohanlal, in one of 2016's Onam releases. Oppam is a thriller where Mohanlal plays a blind man in a full length role for the first time. The film is produced by his dear friend, Antony Perumbavoor.
Here's our review of the film.
What's it about
The film is said to be inspired by 1953 British short film, The Dark Stairway.
Jayaraman (Mohanlal) is a lift operator working in an affluent society. He is blind, but he can see better than most of the seeing people and is very intuitive. He is close to one of the residents, Justice Krishnamoorthy (Nedumudi Venu), who harbours a dark secret, that also involves a little girl Nandini (Baby Meenakshi). This dark secret gets him killed one day, and Jayaraman is the sole witness as to who was the perpetrator. The only issue is thanks to his visual deficiency, the police have trouble believing him, even making him an accused in the case. The killer also wants him out of his way, and so Jayaraman, despite his physical limitations, has to play some smart moves to get himself and the little girl out of harm's way.
The biggest draw of Oppam is, of course, the Mohanlal and Priyadarshan combo. After the disappointment fans endured in their last couple of films, Oppam is definitely a welcome relief for the viewers. It is not as memorable or classic as some of their earlier collaborations like Kilukkam and Chitram, but much better than their last film, that travesty called Geethanjali. After a strictly average first half, the proceedings catch pace in the second half, as Jayaraman engages in a cat and mouse game with the killer. There are a couple of thrilling scenes here, especially the lift scene when Jayaraman find him alone with the killer in the confined space. The climax, although fairly prolonged and nothing novel, has enough tension to keep an average viewer tethered to the edge of his/her seat. Of course, the film would have fallen flat if it was not for the presence of the acting stalwart they call Mohanlal. It is after a long time that I saw Mohanlal in a role that demands his immense skills, and he delivers big time here. The man has immersed himself so much in the skin of the character, with his every nuance and expression as the blind man so spot on. Samuthirakani as the villain is terrific, though his character is not fully developed.
Among the ensemble supporting cast, Chemban Vinod, Anusree, Renji Panicker and Mamukoya stand out. Baby Meenakshi is a little bundle of talent, and has managed to stand up to Mohanlal in all of the scenes they are together.
The first half takes its own sweet time to enthrall the viewers. In fact, it's just plain average, despite setting up the plot. Mohanlal's family scenes don't do much justice to the main plot, apart from showing that he is a man with a world's burden on his shoulders (a trope we have seen in many Mohanlal films like TP Balagopal MA, Chandralekha, Kakkakuyil etc.) The unnecessary inclusion of the songs doesn't help matters either. The choreography of the wedding song is similar to that of Dil Dhadakne Do's song Galla Goodian. There is none of that Priyadarshan touches in those initial scenes. It's only after the interval that the film comes to life. However, you still can't escape the influence of Priyadarshan's earlier films in here. For example, an interaction scene between Chemban Vinod and Mamukoya is inspired by Cochin Haneefa and Jagadeesh's scene in Kakkakuyil. Then there is also the Drishyam influence, especially in the police brutality scenes. Plus, the makers also roped in Kalabhavan Shajon in a role that is shockingly in the same garb as what he did in that brilliant thriller. This could have been totally avoided, as we already had Chemban Vinod's cop character making the required impact. Vimala Raman, in her comeback role, is saddled with an uneven character, and she is very awkward in the scene where she tries to flirt with Mohanlal's character. Other good actors like Innocent, Aju Varghese, Suchitra Pillai are wasted in miniscule roles. Despite the thriller part of the film is engaging, there is nothing novel about the entire plot.
What to do
If you are under the belief that Oppam is a murder mystery, then you would be sorely disappointed as there is no suspense at all. However, as a thriller, Oppam is fairly engaging and makes for a decent one time watch. Above all, this is certainly Mohanlal's best performance in recent times. Watch the film only for this brilliant actor's stellar performance.
3.0 out of 5
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