Kerala

Old in form and content

A shot from the film Oru Kuttanadan blog

A shot from the film Oru Kuttanadan blog  

New trends in our films seem to have escaped attention of the scriptwriter

At the centre of Krishnapuram, a village in Kuttanad where all the action in Oru Kuttanadan Blog happens, is the ‘Boney M’ teashop. Well, the narrative is set in the present, but the teashop is caught in a kind of time warp, with the owner preferring to play just the songs of the music group, who were all the rage in the 1980s.

The makers might not have intended it, but this teashop music player, which plays the same old song like a broken record, becomes a representation of the whole film. The narrative might be set in the present, but the changes that have taken place in the real world and even in our cinema seem to have somehow escaped the attention of the scriptwriter.

Hari, alias Hariettan, (Mammootty), an affluent businessman abroad, comes back to settle down in his native village. A darling of the village youth, he receives a rousing welcome. Due to his popular impression as a troublemaker and a ladies’ man, his interactions with some women in the village raise eyebrows of the villagers, not the viewers who are all used to seeing numerous such characters of the star turning out to be paragons of virtue in the end.

The film employs a narrative device, of a couple sitting abroad and reading a ‘Kuttanadan blog’. The scenes often cut to the couple in their high-rise apartment or in a coffee shop, reading the blog, as if to remind the viewers that we are seeing what they are reading. But we are never told how this random couple is connected to the story back home or why they are so interested in the story as to spend all their waking hours reading it.

In fact, we would never know why the only concern of the entire village is ‘Hariettan’. All the conversations, all the gossip and day-to-day life revolve around ‘Hariettan’. A group of youth, one of whom even leaves his job when Hari arrives in the village, hang around him all the time, making all their plans around him. These hangers-on with the hero are again a vestige of the 1990s Malayalam cinema.

The one thing that reminds the viewer that the movie is indeed set in the present is the ‘free Wi-Fi’, which Hariettan gifts to the youth at the local arts and sports club. Halfway through, realising the ills of Wi-Fi, he shuts it down. One would never know whether the movie was intended as a clever call to return to a good old world, given its insistence on the same old, both in form and content.

S.R. Praveen

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 1:17:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/old-in-form-and-content/article24957615.ece

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