Otta Malayalam Movie

Feature Film | 2023 | Drama
Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty's directorial debut relates ill-effects of parenting and its aftermath. Based on true events, the film is dramatically intense in depicting relationships though it stands out in its honest approach to a grave issue.
Nov 3, 2023 By K. R. Rejeesh

'Otta' undertakes an earnest exploration of the profound theme it seeks to address. Adapted from S. Hariharan's autobiographical book 'Runaway Children,' the film unveils the tumultuous lives of two runaways and the struggle for survival within a slum. The narrative makes it abundantly clear that negative parenting has left a lasting impact on each character. They bear the scars inflicted by their parents, eagerly anticipating the healing of both physical and emotional wounds over time. The directorial debut of Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty reflects a sincere commitment to the screenplay penned by Kiron Prabhakaran, although cliched dramatic elements occasionally hinder its progress.

In this tale, Pookutty embraces an emotional narrative heightened by melodramatic situations. The overdose of dramatic presentation is noticeable, particularly in the lives of Hari and Ben, who hail from disparate family backgrounds. Asif Ali embodies Hari, the son of Iyer (Sathyaraj), a banker from a Brahmin family in Palakkad, while Ben (Arjun Ashokan) lives with his strict doctor mother (Bhavana Ramanna), who demands unwavering obedience. Hari's childhood has been marred by a lack of freedom, even in the face of his caring mother Umamba (Rohini).

Ben, on the other hand, is a fragile youth who struggles to cope with his home environment. His attempts to seek solace from his estranged doctor father (Shyamaprasad) prove futile, leading him to run away from home. Both Ben and Hari find themselves in Chennai, realizing that their lives are taking an unpredictable turn. They take shelter with Raju (Indrajith Sukumaran) in a slum, working odd jobs at a bakery. Ben, however, finds the squalid conditions of the street unbearable, while Raju himself is a product of negative parenting and carries a bitter past. An impassioned soul at heart, Raju forges a strong bond with Hari. Ben, though unhappy with his current circumstances, struggles to express his frustration openly.

While the emotional depth of the film is at times pushed to extremes as the characters navigate unexpected challenges, the central conflict begins to appear somewhat trivial, given the privileged backgrounds of the characters, who have easier alternatives to start anew. What truly resonates is the unpredictable life of Raju, the one-eyed loner in the chaotic slum. Indrajith Sukumaran's effortless portrayal with a Thiruvananthapuram accent enriches the second half of the movie. Arjun Ashokan delivers a convincing performance as an introverted character, effectively conveying the character's inner turmoil. Asif Ali, while not faced with a particularly challenging role, aptly conveys the character's emotions.

'Otta' is a quest for self-reinvention by two young individuals scarred by harsh parenting. While it's a purpose-driven film with a weighty issue at its core, it occasionally feels somewhat flat and disjointed in establishing the link between the characters' past traumas and the overarching plot. The film earnestly delves into intense relationships, even as it strives to approach a serious issue with honesty, resulting in a dramatically charged narrative.

K. R. Rejeesh