Aaraattu Malayalam Movie

Feature Film | 2022 | U | Action, Drama
Can a Mohanlal performance alone save a film like Aaraattu? The movie leaves us thinking about its fate. It may work for the easily impressionable. It is one of the 'been there, done that' experiences.
Feb 19, 2022 By Sreejith Mullappilly

Where To Watch:
   Amazon Prime

The first hour of B. Unnikrishnan's Aaraattu is a case of pure fan service. Mohanlal makes a hero entry, introducing himself as Ganabhooshanam Neyyattinkara Gopan. His entry makes Siddique's CI Shivasankaran fearful of Gopan and his antics. You wonder why the police officer is scared of this random guy. Mohanlal then bashes up a bunch of bad guys. Mohanlal wins the battle. There is no way he can lose, especially when makers are mainly interested in exploiting his stardom.

Aaraattu is full of references to Mohanlal's movies from the 1990s, the 2000s and even the more recent past. Having been a fan of this actor since childhood, it is easy for me to identify the references. For instance, Lal looks at Varikkasseri Mana and imagines the sound of Kaviyoor Ponnamma coming from the inside of the building. It is how unabashedly old-fashioned the film is. I am not quite sure about the authenticity of some of the references here, though. For instance, was Varikkasseri Mana even a location for Mohanlal's Sree Krishna Parunthu? I know for a fact that a good part of the film was shot in my mother's ancestral home.

Now, you might be wondering why I am going on and on about the endless references to old Mohanlal movies here. Do not blame me. It is the first half of Aaraattu for you.

The plot only arrives at the start of the second half. It is a standard plot about the real estate mafia with an obligatory flashback sequence about the Mohanlal character. There is a pattern to Udaykrishna's writing that allows us to see plot twists and character aspects from a mile away. For instance, when Udaykrishna introduces a character, you can tell what they are doing and going to do in his film. The plot twists are supposed to be surprise elements for the audience, but knowing how Udaykrishna writes scripts, they should know that there is hardly any surprise in Aaraattu. It has the kind of script that writes itself.

The movie is packaged as a Mohanlal show. At least, the makers are open about it. They are exploiting the star value of the actor, and they are not shying away from it. Which explains the sense of self-awareness in the performance of the actor and the first hour. At the hands of a lesser actor, the self-references and some of the other elements here may appear too smug. But Lal is so charming and self-aware that his performance alone papers over the cracks. Now, does it mean that a Mohanlal performance alone can save a film like Aaraattu? The movie leaves us thinking about its fate at the box office. It may work for the easily impressionable. It is one of the 'been there, done that' experiences.

The main issue with this form of film is perhaps its lack of conviction. The trailer makes us wonder why Mohanlal is speaking Telugu here. He also speaks Hindi. I felt that there might be some explanation to it in the movie. The only explanation I can arrive at is this: the makers want to make the movie appealing to a pan-India audience. Why else would a group of hooligans from Kerala speak Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil in the same conversation? It feels gimmicky.

Apart from a fun Mohanlal performance for a good part, the only good thing about Aaraattu is its music. The movie has good songs, good choreography, and a terrific background score. The supporting actors are all sidetracked here. The film has many other talented actors, including Shraddha Srinath, Rachana Narayanankutty and Nedumudi Venu, but they do not have roles with substance. After all, it is a Mohanlal show.

Sreejith Mullappilly