'Lokpaal' explores none of the narrative possibilities that the theme of a people-led movement against corruption offers. The film has Mohanlal playing the title role of a man who goes on a societal cleaning spree, all the while struggling to get out a heap of clutter that has accumulated on the script.
Swamy, after having penned some of the best thrillers in Malayalam, has been steadily riding down the hill over the years. With 'Lokpaal' however, he drives us to a point where he leaves us wondering if it's the same writer who had managed to keep us enthralled once, with the excitement blazing away from the tip of his pen.
'Lokpaal' doesn't even have a story, and remains merely a chain of connected events where the protagonist gets to change costumes as if in one of those many films across the state border where you have seen those young men assuming multiple identities to bring the corrupt and the crooked to book. 'Lokpaal' is pretty much the same, minus the technical extravagance that had made those films worth a watch.
When I say the writing is pretty much retro, I mean every bit of it. When Swamy introduces Dr, Geetha (Kavya Madhavan), and tells us that Lokpaal was once in love with her, you shudder, not so much at the possibility of an erstwhile romance, but at the very juvenile lines that the doctor gets to utter on screen.
And when you realize that she is married to the police officer Vijayan (Manoj K Jayan) who is hell bent on nabbing Lokpaal, you comprehend that the picture is complete. And you ask aloud in your heart as to how the writer could even imagine that a scenario as this would still be considered exhilarating by viewers in 2013.
The way it all ends is pretty much miserable and predictable, with a court scene and more impersonation on the way. As the curtains fallmdown, Lokpaal does manage to carry on with his clean up, reclining on a revolving chair inside his mysterious looking blue tinted den, and you hope all would be well with the world.
Even more surprising is the fact that veterans like Joshi and Mohanlal could be convinced of the commercial prospects of a project as this. Some films do rise tremendously from the writing ashes, and perhaps they thought 'Lokpaal' would be one such film that would appear more appealing on screen than on paper.
Mohanlal does get to make different makeovers, and among the many my personal favorite would have to be the ticket inspector. Gross injustice has been done to Kavya Madhavan as her role is one that spontaneously invites squeals from all over the place. It has little to do with the way she has played the character. But much more to do with the ludicrous way in which the role has been penned. Meera Nandan is comparatively lucky in that she gets to play a character that is more relatable.
There is nothing much to caw about the technical aspects either. The music and the very odd times that the songs pop up on your face serve as the final nails on the coffin.
As 'Lal' spreads across to accommodate a few additional letters in between and transform into 'Lokpaal' in the title credits, one hopes for something equally stimulating to follow. Tough luck that the acumen that thus fleetingly makes an appearance in the titles is nowhere else to be seen in the film.