Odum Raja Aadum Rani Malayalam Movie
Viju Verma makes a daring directorial debut with his film 'Odum Raja Aadum Rani' in which he pluckily dwells on a theme that's usually not touced with as much as a barge pole in Malayalam cinema. Aided by some spectacular writing and acting by Manikantan Pattambi, 'Odum Raja Aadum Rani' is an entertaining film that has a sensitive tale to tell.
Venkidi (Tini Tom) is a man who roams around villages selling bangles and cosmetics with a little more than a fair bargain in mind. His escapades lead him on to a small hamlet where he decides to settle down for a while. The local villagers assign Thamburu (Manikantan Pattambi) as a domestic help to Venkidi, and the two become thick pals in no time. Little does Venkidi realize that Thamburu has fallen hopelessly in love with him, and when he turns down his advances, Thamburu sees red with disastrous consequences.
This is a film that needs to be lauded for staunchly refusing to give in to the banal caricatures of alternate sexuality that are ever so common in Malayalam cinema. Perhaps there have been very few instances when an attempt has made to probe deeper into the mind within the man caught in a woman's psyche, and as such 'Odum Raja Aadum Rani' makes a pertinent initiation.
The world of servitude that Thamburu willingly builds up all around him is one where he would, for the rest of his life be at Venkidi's beck and call, doling out one demand of his master after the other, with immense pleasure. He takes to cooking with a vengeance, and does not spare Venkidi's clothes that have been set aside to be washed either.
It's rational perhaps that the person who best comprehends what Thanburu has been going through is a woman - Mala (Sreelekshmi Sreekumar) - and when they strike up a camaraderie Venkidi is amused. Though it becomes apparent that the woman has been working on a scheme of her own, she remains the only one who sees Thamburu for what he truly is.
Yet, what makes 'Odum Raja Aadum Rani' special is that Thamburu does not struggle to fit himself into the passe Chanthupottu mould that has often been the subject of severe derision ever since the character appeared on screen. Nor does the film maker adopt an easy way out by making his epicene protagonist fall in love with a girl; Thamburu is quite sure as to whom he wants in life, and repeatedly spurns the love appeals of a woman colleague with disdain. Which is why the initial hiccups in the script and a couple of odd songs notwithstanding, 'Odum Raja Aadum Rani' is still one film that has got its heart right in place.
As the backdrop of the tale shifts from Kottenkulangara to Koovagam, Thamburu strives to restructure his life, losing himself in a comfy crowd. Flanked by transsexuals, he dons a woman's attire and roams the Koovagam streets, having finally discovered freedom. As a television crew coerces him to divulge his story, he spats back at them in annoyance, stating once and for all that he has made a choice.
'Odum Raja Aadum Rani' has an immensely talented actor to thank for - Maninkantan Pattambi - whose portrayal of Thamburu is near flawless. Never does he go overboard with excessive gesticulations as is often the case, and sees to it that Thamburu does not degenerate into a corny re-enactment of an effeminate man often portrayed on stage and in films. In stark contrast is Tini Tom, embodying the masculine self with his slapdash manners and indifferent gait. Sreelekshmi is remarkably effective as well, in the role of Mala who is around to thwart Thamburu's dreams.
'Odum Raja Aadum Rani' is a striking depiction of scores of men and women who are destined to lives their lives behind a veil on account of their sexuality. Unapologetic to the core, it touches and breaks your heart in myriad ways, and emerges a life-affirming movie with a difference.