In Arabiyum Ottakavum P.Madhavan Nairum - Oru Marubhoomi Katha, Priyadarshan puts up innumerable set pieces and tries to eventually place them together to tell a tale that is mostly harmless; but also charmless.
Madhavan Nair (Mohanlal) has over the years, finally managed to start leading a comfortable life in Abudhabi, when Meenakshi (Lekshmi Rai) drops into his life from heaven. Love strikes, and in no time breaks, and a disheartened Nair finds himself lost in the desert along with Abdu (Mukesh), who spells disaster. The duo runs into Eliana (Bhavana), who has been kidnapped, and together they devise a new plan to mint some easy money.
I wonder if being inspired by one's own films is a bad thing. Perhaps not. Because Priyan seems to be basking in the glory of some of his best films in the past, and there are innumerable occasions in AOPMOM when we are reminded of the director's yesteryear blockbuster hits.
Madhavan Nair and Abdu, lost in the desert, approach a few local herdsmen to find out the way back to the city. You almost wait for Abdu to blurt out 'Dushman..dushman..', but thankfully doesn't happen. After a few minutes of garbled discourse, Abdu quits the scene.
The structural resemblance of AOPMOM to Priyan's earlier films is also stark. Which becomes most apparent, when the trio of Madhavan Nair, Abdu and Meenakshi head straight into a palatial bungalow, where a marriage is about to happen. The customary wedding song soon follows without fail.
Impersonation is an integral part of most of Priyan's movies, and this time around its Koya (Suraj Venjarammoodu) who is the object of all the attention that arises out of this imposture. Mismatched identities do rake up a bit of laughter, but when you see them in film after film, you end up being disappointed.
Once cannot ignore the similarities in characterization as well. Like Meenakshi is a poor replica of the role that Revathy immortalized in 'Kilukkam', and though their basic life situations are different, their temperaments almost remain the same. That Meenakshi is not a patch on Nandini is another matter altogether.
Thus the tragedy of it strikes us as the film draws to a close - the lack of a story in a film that runs for about two and a half hours is something that demands grave concern. Yeah, the jokes that one would be on the lookout for, in a film as this, are there in abundance. Some of them do hit their mark, while some others land a mile away.
The best thing about AOPMNOM is its lead actor - Mohanlal. I should say there are flashes of the Lal that we have for long adored in this film; and there are at least a couple of scenes in it, when he makes you realize what we have been missing all along. His performance is effortless, graceful and downright brilliant. Mukesh's Abdu is an ample foil to Mohanlal's Madhavan Nair, and the actor provides sufficient verbal support through some of the best lines in the film.
AOPMOM delivers very little of that old charm that we had adored in those Priyadarshan films of yore. The wobbly script is the proverbial camel here that has chucked out the entire film from under the shade onto the scorching desert.