‘Oththa Seruppu Size 7’ review: Parthiban’s bold one-man cinematic experiment commands respect

‘Oththa Seruppu Size 7’: Parthiban in a staggering one-man show, with technical excellence all around him   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The creation of Oththa Seruppu deserves love...and respect. R Parthiban has pulled off the almost-impossible, by managing to hold our attention for more than 100 minutes with just him on the big screen.

When he announced this film, pitching it as a subject shot in a single room and featuring only one person, I thought it would be a self-indulgent trip. It would be him reminiscing about an incident and there would be a flashback and sadness, I thought.

With Oththa Seruppu, Parthiban proved me wrong. Big-time. The film is actually a murder mystery — one that keeps you guessing till the very end — and one that is aesthetically shot and enacted.

The film revolves around Masilamani (Parthiban), who is crouching beside a chair in an interrogation room the first time we see him. He is hurt a little — there’s a scar on his face that seems to have been sutured up in a hurry — and he will not speak even though the cops in the room are urging him to. He is observing a vow of silence for a while, we are informed, and a few minutes later, he starts talking. And then keeps talking till the very end of the film.

Oththa Seruppu is uniquely structured — it is more of storytelling than a feature film, because we have to carefully listen to Masilamani pick up pieces of the story he is telling. He has landed at a police station because the cops believe he is the prime suspect in a murder case, and it is now up to him to show them facts that he did not commit it. The start is sluggish, but once you really get into Parthiban’s storytelling skills, Oththa Seruppu provides enough twists and turns that you would associate with any other murder mystery.

Oththa Seruppu Size 7
  • Cast: Parthiban
  • Storyline: A man, accused of a murder, must explain to the police what really happened

There are small traces of the ‘comedian’ Parthiban initially — there’s a clever quip on the word ‘copy’ and later another on ‘maapillai’ — but thankfully, these jokes are restricted to just a few one-liners. The ‘comedian’ in him has no business in a film like Oththa Seruppu, and once actor Parthiban settles down, he really gets into the skin of Masilamani. His storytelling skills are exemplary; the real triumph is how he ensures we are able to visualise each character in his stories vividly without seeing anyone. We can picture his son, Mahesh, with whom he shares a deep bond. We can picture the kind-hearted policeman, who seems to have a soft corner for Masilamani. Heck, we can even picture Rosie, one of the lady constables attending to Mahesh. They are all just voices, but if they were to show up, chances are that you would probably recognise them.

In a one-man show like this, the technical aspects have to be top-notch, and Oththa Seruppu does complete justice. While Resul Pookutty’s soundscape breathes life into the silence and the intermittent noises, Ramji’s cinematography and lighting complements the mood perfectly (watch out for the shot in which Masilamani is captured within the edges of his glasses... it’s a spectacle.) And of course, the use of Ilaiyaaraja’s songs are more than befitting at times. Oththa Seruppu is not the result of just one man’s passionate cinematic effort... it becomes a total product thanks to competent contributions from other departments as well.

That the film manages to do all that with just a single man in the frame for 105 minutes is a staggering feat. At the end of the film, Masilamani is shown walking out and smiling whole-heartedly. So are we.

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2022 4:21:51 PM |

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