I happen to watch Udayannanu tharam. I found it amidst the old DVDs and the disk is just as fresh despite it being a decade old. When I watched Udayanaanu tharam for the first time, I felt like it was a different flavour from the conventional masala films that were being released at that time. Also, Mohanlal as an actor became less selective and went for roles that might be a bomb. Some of them were disastrous to a point when people thought if he could be at a crisis in terms of stardom. But then, the talent put him back on the emperor’s chair. In a way, I believe that Mohanlal’s fearlessness in terms of selecting roles and experimenting with different scenarios helped him more than it could affect him. Malayalam industry does not backfire like Hollywood if you have the throne.
Udayanaanu tharam is a different flavour theme-wise but the plot and set-up have been such that, this is film had all the cliches and repetitions that is usually seen in a typical Malayalam film. That was disappointing to someone who looked forward to what the film could offer.
Udayabanu (Mohanlal) is an ambitious and passionate filmmaker who had been working as an assistant director. He aspires to be a director and is working tirelessly on his new screenplay. As his counterpart, there is Rajappan (Sreenivasan) who had been working as a junior artist but wants to be a superstar. He has an uncordial relationship with Udayabanu due to his nature as a con. Udayan, however, helped Madhumati (Meena) rise to stardom. Udayan is ready with his script but Rajappan steals it to do his first movie. Udayan breaks when he finds out about the same.
As I mentioned earlier, the film intended to introduce us to the world of filmmaking. And… they did. The film showed how unfairly people with a certain tone, height, and age is treated. Yet the industry is ruled by a selective few “superstars“. Technically, the film made fun of the reigning superstars in raw form but cleverly disregarded the names and status. Rajappan’s rise into stardom and his rule as “Saroj Kumar” is shown to be every aspiring filmmaker and newcomer’s nightmare. He is ludicrous in terms of performance but he gets all the attention. He has enough fans to ruin the chances of other upcoming actors. Above all, he tries to put Udayan under his shadows but Udayan rebutted with his “artistic” vision. This concept along with the end is one thing we are shown but then, it is hidden amidst the melodrama and cliches.
The major cliche is Udayan and Madhumati’s relationship. Madhumati is shown to be rebellious and her hatred towards terrible scripts and the way women are represented is reflected well initially. But then, she has to be the source of support for Udayan while he is drooling over his failure. Udayan himself is a complicated character. Earlier he is eccentric and comical. Then he becomes all dramatic and his initial form as a “comic” is forgotten. Then he becomes a male chauvinist who believes that he must have a status at par with Madhu, despite all her support and encouragement. Then he becomes ambitious and decides to take Rajappan in his movie. Finally, he is the intelligent visionary who puts Rajappan where he belongs who later evolves into an understanding and forgiving person. Basically, Udayan is not one character but several. We see several personalities in him which looks like avial. I facepalmed when he said “I will fall at Rajappan’s feet and beg for him to return” after Rajappan leaves the set.
A few minutes earlier, he was ready to punch the guy in his face. Even if the character is likeable, then it should be credited to Mohanlal’s effortless performance and his ability to lose himself in the character. Mohanlal has good chemistry with Meena and we have seen that in Drishyam and Munthirivallikal. But here, seemingly Meena chose to focus on her makeup instead of her performance. SHe lacked expressions and there are many close-up shots of her. Character-wise, Madhumati is just as complicated as Udayan. At first, she is a rebel, then she decides that she has to act to survive. The only redeeming factor is the one scene where Udayan calls her out for this. Eventually, she falls under the cliche of Malayalam heroines discarded after a while and being reduced to the hero’s love interest or motivating factor.
Apart from that, the film presented interesting characters with appearances. Salim Kumar did a sincere job as Rafeeq. The scene where he becomes emotional after coming to know of his offer is performed well. Mukesh stuck to his standard as Babykuttan. The spectacled appearance in white kurta and lungi suits him well. He did a steady role as a supportive friend. Bhavana has a minor role in this movie as the actress in Udayan’s movie. She doesn’t have much to do. However, intentionally or unintentionally, the director gave her a moment to fire back. Since her introduction, Rajappan is shown to be flirting yet he makes fun of her. His associate’s fires at Udayan for having a scene where Gayathri shouts at Rajappan, saying that “our star cannot have a scene where a woman shouts him down“. Gayathri is clearly annoyed at these instances. Finally, when she had to act with Rajappan again, she not only does it perfectly but when the point where she had to call him “neechanaanu thaan” we could feel energy and anger from her. And that probably gave the strength to push him down. It is unintentional yet worked in the climax portion. Rajappan ruined an entire film and apparently along with Udayan the entire cast and crew are pissed off. So when it comes to rebuttal, they are worked well and coordinated.
The biggest plus point this film has apart from the cult comedy scenes is Jagathy Sreekumar as Pachalam Basi. Even if you forget the movie, you will remember Pachalam. And… his “navarasa” scene and when he teaches Rajappan the same.
That’s why the film worked. Majority of the film, there is dragging, drama, complications but the last 30 minutes compensated it and we have goosebumps while following Udayan in his journey. The film could a case study on how a good beginning and end could help in terms of a film’s overall appeal. Technically the film showed how a film is made in the intro scene where the camera is shown is wonderfully shown. The movie does show you the world of cinema and ambition.
So… how good is this? Is it certainly a good one time watch. You will enjoy the comedy, the songs and the climax. You might find it entertaining or cliched. Either way, it is worth your time.