One Movie Review Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (Two and half stars)
Star Cast: Mammootty, Murali Gopy, Joju George, Salim Kumar, Mathew Thomas, Nimisha Sajayan, Madhu
Director: Santhosh Vishwanath
What’s Good: Mammootty enters the frame and lives the life of bipolarity through a character that has lost himself to help his people.
What’s Bad: The film relies too much on the superstar and doesn’t really become a strong voice or representation that we expect from a politically sound social drama.
Loo Break: every time the DOP decides to take a slow-motion shot of Mammootty, RUN!
Watch or Not?: if you are still stuck in ‘too good to be true’ films and a Mammootty fan, why are you even here? Go watch. Others don’t go in expecting you are going to get the reality. It’s a template of how we want our Chief Minister(s) to be. Anil Kapoor did that back in 2001, 20 years ago. Just a lesser sanitised version, maybe.
One can be simply described as Mammootty explaining to the world what CMs are supposed to do. But I will be more creative, don’t worry. Kadakkal Chandran, CM of Kerala, is a person everyone unanimously dreads. Ones who have met him and even the ones who have just heard his name. But who is he? Is he that cruel? Does democracy mean anything to him? Why the fear? Everything is dissected when a boy and his friend dare to call him out after he is assaulted by the CM’s security guard at a hospital the boy’s father is admitted in.
One Movie Review: Script Analysis
The last three films I got the watch are The Priest, Wild Dog and One. A thing that is common between all the above is the presence of a mass superstar; two even have the same. While The Priest was successful in putting the story above the star, Wild Dog was halfway there. Sad to report, One fails in that department, but Mammootty saves the day. More about that later.
My intrigue was upped by many levels when I read Bobby and Sanjay have penned One. Not to forget, these are the same guys who have shaped films like Uyare and Mumbai Police (if you haven’t, go for them before you watch One). The writers are known for tackling social stigmas and issues through their narratives respectfully. Remember how Mumbai Police focused on the LGBTQ community (don’t come at me calling it a spoiler. The film is ancient now).
With One, they try to do the same. They talk about the fact how the citizens are dreadful of the chair regardless of the fact of how the person sitting on it is. With that, they also focus on how a Chief Minister is supposed to be. What creates ideologies, and how to follow them and sow their seeds. For the first half an hour, it is just the build-up to meeting the man who sums it up all.
These 30 minutes, in my opinion, are closest to reality, and thus relatable to the max. A young boy Sanal, after his father is admitted to the hospital due to an inhumane incident, is manhandled by the cops outside the hospital because the CM is inside. That creates a whirlpool inside him, and when a friend triggers it, he decides to call that out through a social media post.
The post goes viral, and the opposition to the CM begin juicing out the situation. The ruling party is looking for the boy, who is running away thinking that the CM will kill him. Now, this was a fertile ground to showcase how rebels are created. The relation between the youth and the politics. Veteran politicians prepping up the youth. And Sanjay and Bobby too try and show all of that, but sadly fall prey to the command of overshadowing it all with Mammootty’s magnum presence.
What we instead get is a half baked look at a CM trying to get rid of the evils in the system, and incorporating the people in the system. The idea of giving power in those hands who elect the king is ideal in creating a social drama that will speak to the masses. But if your constant gaze is on how your antagonist walks in slow-motion, while you zoom in towards his shining shoes, writers can’t do much.
My interest forever was with the dynamic the Sanal and the CM shared. It seemed like a man is preparing his prodigy. Whenever youth and politics meet, it has to be fresh, because it is. Remember Mani Ratnam’s Yuva, not an exact example, but that is what I was hoping for. But the makers completely forget the angle for long chunks, and all Sanal gets to do by the end is stand and clap at a speech that Kadakkal has given. Wow inspired!
One Movie Review: Star Performance
I have indeed criticised the slow-motion shots, and too much focus on Mammootty, but that doesn’t take away anything from the fact that the superstar has kept his best foot forward. The actor plays a politician who has almost no family to lose. He is not just an image of a democratic leader to the world, but actually a democratic man in real life. His orders are not brutal commands but requests.
Though he gets no backstory, but you can see where he has come from. Mammootty lives the bipolarity of his character. You see it clearly when he forgets his signature. There is a battle within a battle, and with his calm face, he aces every minute of playing the part.
Mathew Thomas gets to play the boy Sanal. In the first few minutes he is given a breakdown scene and he proves to have calibre. The actor manages to embody the character and impress. And I will say that again, I wish he would have been explored more.
The Great Indian Kitchen actor Nimisha Sajayan gets an inconsequential cameo. Joju George and Madhu do what they know best.
One Movie Review: Direction, Music
Santhosh Vishwanath takes the director’s chair and heads the film in directions far away from each other. The first hour is completely different from the next, and the climax conflict can be an entirely different film. Good that he is backed by some amazing actors, or the chinks would have shined brighter.
What kills the mood is the sanitisation of it all. Now the production design team is also to be blamed. For a film that talks about politics of the real world, there are no names, no mentions. Not even fictional flags to differentiate between the organisations. Everything becomes too vanilla, and we know that isn’t true at all.
Background score is grand and helpful to the fabric of the film.
One Movie Review: The Last Word
One is an honest attempt to telling the world how it is supposed to be, but a bit too sanitised. Mammootty is amazing but that isn’t enough to make a film brilliant in totality.
One releases on 27th April, 2021.
Share with us your experience of watching One.