One Review: The Mammootty Starrer Is Brilliant In Flashes

·3-min read

Hold your horses, all you Mammoothy devotees. The thundering thespian does not make his entry until half an hour into the plot. And, what a grand entry it is! Mammootty's introduction as the CM of Kerala has obviously been cannibalized by writers Bobby and Sanjay from their earlier 2014 screenplay in How Old Are You where Manju Warrior gets an invitation from the President Of India.

I don’t mind the cross-apery as long as it is for a noble cause. The idea of a powerful politician giving a patient ear to the common man is well executed in both the Bobby-Sanjay screenplays. This is hot stuff, thoughtful and forceful.

One is far more ambitious than How Old Are You. A state awakens to a Facebook post by a young man Sanal(Mathew Thomas, so cogent in Kumbalangi Nights) who questions the State’s Chief Minister for the plight of the working class.

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The film opens with a food delivery man (Salim Kumar) being subjected to customary abuse and ending up in hospital. This is the trigger point for his son Sanal to angrily question the state administration, and also for an unlikely friendship between the Chief Minister and the young boy Sanal.

They share thoughts and peanuts. It is a heartwarming fantasy friendship and a warm wallop of wishful thinking about our politicians getting down from their high horses. I wish the entire focus of the plot was the CM’s bonding with the working class boy. Instead director Santosh Viswanath hops skips and jumps into parliamentary machinations and ministerial designs, all of which looks tragically planted and artificial when weighed against the sheer purity of the core relationship between the governor and the governed.

The plot propels ahead with way too much baggage that weighs it down, rendering it enfeebled and manufactured. That whole subplot about CM Kaddakal Chandran’s relationship with his sister is half-baked sketchy and finally inconsequential. Nimisha Sajayan who was so central to The Great Indian Kitchen is here reduced to a shadowy sisterly act.

Better developed is the CM’s relationship with his friend, right-hand man and closest political ally Baby (Joju George). The two men say a lot to one another without speaking across the venomous cabinet meetings. Murali Gopi as the opposition leader exudes just the right proportions of cunning and scheming. Otherwise, self-control is in short supply in this bombastic drama. But, with Mammootty around the rest of the cast has no other option but to tone it down.

Mammootty is quietly powerful, restrained and indignant, bridled and yet impatient to break free from the restrictions that politics places on those who want to make a difference.

I like what One has to say about the voters’ right to recall incompetent corrupt politicians. But, the script is too scattered, to anxious to draw a wide arc when a more intimate character-study would have served the purpose. A little bit more of that self-control we see in Mammoothy’s performance would have gone a long way in humanizing the film beyond its towering protagonist.

Image source: Malayalamone, Instagram/onemovieofficial

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