Odiyan Malayalam Movie Review
The folklore character odiyan has myriad colorful anecdotes associated with his life. Odiyans were used to hire by people to avenge opponents during olden times as they had the knack of spooking people at night in the guise of beasts. VA Shrikumar Menon, in his maiden directorial venture, follows the life of 'Odiyan' Manickan, who lives in a village at Thenkurissi in Palakkad district. Villagers at night fear to travel through the rustic paths due to the presence of odiyan. With his nimble movements and remarkable acrobatic skills, Manickan's fame reaches beyond Palakkad. Shrikumar places Mohanlal in an aesthetically created space but while narrating odiyan' s scary acts, the director goes extravagant and leaves you in the midst of disbelief and reality.
Mohanlal, indeed, appears as effortless as ever in the various stages of odiyan' s life. There is a moment in the film when Manickan realizes frightfully that he has lost his individuality. He fails to revive his original self. Now he sees himself yet another form a bull and he even feel that his shadow is exactly like the beast. The inherited garb of the odiyan becomes a curse and burden for Manicken. He faces the challenge of tracing his identity in the village. Manickan's 15 years' life in Varanasi was an escape from the mental struggle he had to face at Thenkurissi.
'Odiyan' explores the pangs of the final odiyan in the village with occasionally creating scary settings and his return to the village after a long sabbatical has a reason. Shrikumar Menon explicitly delineates the antagonist right from the off and thus he fails to spring in a surprise on the viewers in the prologue. From a viewer's perspective, the impact of the treachery of Ravunni (Prakash Raj) draws a blank owing to the incongruous dubbing by Shammy Thilakan. This is obviously a misfit as you are well familiar with the voice of this South Indian actor.
Manickan's loyalty as a servant in the ancient house sets the stage for the core conflict of the plot. Manju Warrier as Prabha, the elder sister, and her blind younger sister Meenakshi (Sana Altaf) keep a warm relationship with Manickan. Eventually, this irks their brother-in-law Ravunni.
The past life of Manickan is revealed through the narrations of Gopi Mash (Innocent) and Vasu (Santhosh Keezhattoor) et al. His grandfather Muthappan, played by Manoj Joshi, had the status of the major odiyan in the village. He grooms Manickan into becoming his successor.
Albeit the dialogues are subtle, and sometimes aesthetically woven, Harikrishnan's script delves into the fancies and myths surrounding odiyan' s life. So, one has to reconcile with the visual graphics embellishments employed to vindicate the tale of revenge.
It is a delightful portrayal of Manju Warrier in two stages of the character with panache. Her presence creates an additional vitality to the proceedings of this 167-minute film. The director's aesthetic sensibility comes into play so handy while depicting the subtle romantic overtures between Manickan and Prabha. Sana Altaf gets ample room for performance and she makes the most of it. Be in song or in the latter half scenes, she makes her presence appealing to the audience.
Altogether, 'Odiyan' gives the impression that ornate visual effects gatecrash the tale of a folklore character, who has the knack of spooking people in the guise of beasts. The revenge drama is overpowered by inappropriate technical fripperies than an engaging substance. The triumphs of Manickan are more on a fantasy mode evoking a mixed feeling of acceptance. Meanwhile, songs composed by M. Jayachandran are mellifluous while cinematographer Shaji Kumar enthralls with appealing visuals.
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