'Duplicate' is an undemanding movie, but it's as much unjustifiable and unnecessary as well. Suraj Venjaramood's debut as a lead actor is mostly a hit and miss affair, with the misses outnumbering the hits by far.
Life isn't an easy deal for Sivankutty (Suraj Venjarammoodu). With plenty of debts to be paid off, and with neither a job nor the money, he runs around with the hope of marrying his uncle's daughter Meenakashi (Rupasri) some day. Little does he know that he's closely being followed by none other than the gangster PKR (Salim Kumar) and his associate Bruno (Bijukuttan).
When Suraj raises himself to the slightly more elevated position of the hero, he loses out on the fundamental element that makes him so endearing to several of us; the comic streak that had drawn the audience to the cinema halls to watch 'Duplicate' in the first place.
Suraj the hero has turned out to be sober; he laughs less, and makes us laugh even lesser. So the task of bringing out those peels of laughter has been entrusted on a comic ensemble that makes up the supporting cast that includes Salim Kumar, Bijukuttan and specifically Bhiman Raghu who's truly hilarious.
Suraj thus passes the baton on to his supporters and takes on the character(s) noiselessly. There is no escape for him from the routine ties that binds the hero down, the creditors chasing him around, and the love who would most likely be married off to somebody else, if he so much as turns his eyes away from her. All this emotional baggage on the character pins him down, and as an actor he has little option but to slouch under its enormous weight.
There are a few decent ticklers in the first half that has us in splits. It's an irony that they do not have anything to do with Suraj though. But the moments are enjoyable, and tremendously so. Sadly, this momentum that the film gains initially, is never maintained and as the half way mark comes up on screen, the 'twist' that we last saw in 'Maya Bazaar' suggests that things wouldn't be as amusing in the latter half.
As expected, after the first hour the smattering of laughs too disappear, and the film slowly turns out to be quite awkward and uncomfortable. The crime scene is forced, and it's frequently a tedious disappointment. Riyaz Khan does sort things out, but the way in which he does makes you wish that it was just another joke hurled at you, aimed right at your chuckle nerve.
The film is a tribute to compulsive drinkers in several ways. It's full of people who live to gulp down that bottle by sunset. There is a celebration of sorts when a liquor shop is opened up in the village, and a song appears to pep things up a bit. There is no such word as moderation and they revel on every dumb opportunity that passes by. High time someone got these fellas to an alcoholics anonymous group somewhere to get their miserable lives back into track.
'Duplicate' is merely witless, and the laughs simply aren't enough. And for a film as this, that could be fatal, since laughter would be the only thing that keeps you diverted, far away from the unexciting plot.
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