God himself finds an avatar in this wacky, zany and genuinely interesting comic thriller. A prologue to the film features Malayalams’s favourite super-director (and fast becoming a favourite super-actor too) playing the role of a harried and bedraggled almighty in what appears to be paradise or a gateway to it for the afterlife. A certain case is particularly vexing him. Kallan Pavithran (probably a reference to the old Padamrajan movie of the same name from 1981) was a thief who was killed by an angry mob somewhere around World War II. He has been worried ever since about the curse that runs through his family and affects his descendants. The curse was put by the Big Guy in a fit of anger, but after Pavithran’s constant haranguing he wishes he could retract it. He gives him a workaround of sorts, which allows for the curse to be lifted through one of his descendants whose life will otherwise inadvertently cause furrows in the lives of three others.
The story then shifts its focus to earthly confines, as two bumbling traffic cops, Pappan (Tovino Thomas) and Joy (Balu Varghese), are given a chance to be part of a major drug heist along with a superior officer (Manoj K. Jayan), the primary purpose of which is to capture the mysterious kingpin of the operation. Things go haywire and the officer dies, partially because of their idiocy, and the two are placed on suspension. Pappan, who lives in with his fiery girlfriend Malu (an excellent Santhy Balachandran), needs some cash desperately to make good on a payment to Ittymany (Alencier Ley Lopez), a local biggie who had paid a potential bribe to Pappan but now wants it back in light of his suspension. Pappan finds a shady job, which he initially considers below him, through his canny superior officer, played by Vijayaraghavan. This involves tailing a young woman, Omana (again an impressive newcomer, Neha Iyer), a millionaire’s wife suspected of infidelity. Omana works for a shady crime boss whose father passed away recently and who wants her to act as the in between for transferring his father’s ashes to where they need to be. As Pappan and Joy keep tabs on Omana, all these story trails and another involving stolen rare artifacts, come together into their midst. Before they know it, both Malu and Joy’s hilariously silent but brooding grandad are also involved in the mix up. Pappan and Joy start realising they are in something which is way over their heads and things turn into a wacky comedy of errors before a finale at a theatre company in the background of a play. Here too there is another actor cameo to surprise us. And of course, all this is related in some way or the other to Kallan Pavithran’s ministrations to our funny deity.
The filmmaker makes clear his debt to his inspirations at the off. Guy Ritchie, Tarantino, Priyadarshan, the Coen brothers are listed, and the style is evident of these auteurs. In some ways it struck me as a version of Lijo Jose Pellissery’s huge misfire, Double Barrel, but done right. The film maybe reminiscent of the tropes of these directors, but it definitely has a visual language and energy of its own which makes it stand apart. The characters are well rendered and have their own quirks which endear them to us. This doesn’t limit itself to the great lead performances from Tovino Thomas and Balu Varghese, but also to the supporting characters. So, we have, among others, a kleptomaniac girl, a woman who is as effective as any male mafia boss and a grandad who remains a silent ever-present character in the shenanigans of the youngsters but whose eyes have a quiet intensity which tells a story of its own. Even the seemingly unscrupulous character of Ittymany is presented in a way as to find a place in our sympathies. The culmination reminded me of the laugh out loud comedies of yesteryear, mostly done well by Siddique-Lal and Priyadarsan, where a bunch of characters from different threads of the story come together and mayhem ensues. In this stretch of hilarity, another performance which has to be mentioned is Saiju Kurup’s as a crime kingpin who is serious about his stage acting career as well. His background story with Omana is hilarious to say the least. The music is well done too, especially a beautifully melodious love track which has been deservedly getting quite a bit of airwaves over the years on the television channels.
Overall, an inspired effort which any lover of a tad experimental, but mostly funny, Malayalam cinema should make a point to catch.