One review: Mammootty’s political drama is pleasant despite its problems

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One movie star cast: Mammootty, Murali Gopy, Joju George, Siddique, Mathew Thomas
One movie director: Santhosh Viswanath
One movie ratings: 2.5 star

One of the upsides of watching a movie on a streaming service from the comfort and safety of our home is that we become a tad bit more accommodative than we usually are. We are a bit more forgiving and tolerant towards the film, given that we didn’t have to go through a lot of trouble of going to a theatre to watch it. The one question that bugs the minds of most movie patrons is whether the film is worth their effort, money and time? Now, when we discount the first two parameters of this movie-going conundrum, we are more likely to appreciate even a mediocre movie as opposed to completely hating it.

Take, for instance, Mammootty’s latest film, One, which started streaming on Netflix on Tuesday. The film’s marketing promised us some sort of a political extravaganza, but what we were served instead were the good intentions of the filmmaker. Having watched this film without much trouble at home, I can appreciate the messaging without complaining about how this film is such a wasted opportunity.

Kadakkal Chandran, played by Mammootty, belongs to a low caste. After dedicating more than 37 years of his life to politics, he is still untouched by the vices of his profession. He doesn’t seek power for its own sake and is not greedy. He is an idealistic man, who knows where he comes from and where he’s going. He is also secure enough to understand the dynamics of society. He, for instance, doesn’t put a student who asks him to give him a haircut in jail. The student in question meant that comment as an insult to the Chief Minister for being the son of a barber. In fact, many seasoned politicians cannot digest the fact that a barber’s son holds the Chief Minister’s Office in Kerala. But, Chandran wears his history and his family legacy as armour, which saves him from tripping on his own ego.

There is a lot of political awareness in the writing of screenwriter duo Bobby and Sanjay. The film immediately acknowledges that politics is the last resort of the scoundrels but at the same time, it also refuses to be completely cynical. Going by the film, all it takes is a single self-destructive politician to ignite the fuse of progressive reform.

Read in Malayalam.

And Bobby and Sanjay want us to see the ironies in the state’s politics. In Kerala where communist ideology rules, people can’t stand a son of a proletarian becoming a chief minister. The filmmakers also want us to see the state’s obsession with hartal, and how disadvantages of frequent strikes outweigh the advantages. It also emphasises on the fact that every political party has a few honest members who want to bring about a change in the country. It also highlights the need for a leader to cut the umbilical cord with his political party once he takes the oath of a public office. In other words, the separation of church and state. The picturization of director Santhosh Viswanath, however, doesn’t do justice to the keen observations of Bobby-Sanjay. Or Bobby-Sanjay deliberately sabotaged their script to accommodate hero-worshipping? It is hard to say.

For one, there are long build-ups to obvious outcomes and at times it gets preachy. Also, what’s up with Kadakkal Chandran’s head injury and his trouble with memory? Only Bobby-Sanjay and Santhosh Viswanath could tell us why they did not follow through with that sub-plot.

Despite its several follies, One is a pleasant movie to watch. It feels good for a change when a powerful person uses his power to help the weak and fix problems of the poor with a single swing of his pen.

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