Cast: Mohanlal, Prithviraj, Meena, Kalyani Priyadarshan
Prithviraj’s second film as director, after the blockbuster success of Lucifer, is decidedly lightweight with an ad-film aesthetic that remains watchable even when there’s not a lot happening. There’s never anything big at stake and that’s by design because the idea seems to have been to make an easy-on-the-eyes comedy that twists itself around three big “twists”.
These twists aren’t particularly inventive nor are they difficult to predict but the film’s overall tone hardly lets us take offence, because there’s enough self-awareness to let everyone know that they’re not trying too hard. Take for example the manner in which Bro Daddy plays out like a series of confessions. It’s seldom about an event or its consequences. Instead, the focus is on the tension arising from having to reveal these events to an assembly line of difficult people.
It’s a neat approach to deal with plot points that are a mix of Badhai Ho and The Father Of The Bride 2, both delightful comedies about ordinary characters being put in extraordinary family situations. It’s also a light update on Mohanlal’s own Pavithram (Bro Daddy translates to ‘Chettachan’, Mohanlal’s character in it), except that the idea of ‘shame’ doesn’t need to be explored today like it had to be thirty years ago.
So when an unplanned pregnancy becomes an event in itself, it doesn’t rattle its leads into melodrama territory. This is partly because their wealthy backgrounds give them a fair amount of insulation, which means that conflicts in career and society isn’t as complex as it would have for middle-class characters. But then there’s also the manner in which these central characters themselves don’t let the court of public opinion affect them.
What this does to Bro Daddy is keep the film a tad too lightweight. No one seems really worried so why should we? Even in terms of comedy, the film seldom pushes the silliness enough for it to amount to anything, expect for sparkling moments like when a shirt from Pattaya becomes important and when the theme from 96 gets the funniest inserts you could have asked for.
But the issues with Bro Daddy has more to do with its length than its depth. Even though the film’s generally led by a team of delightful actors (Lalu Alex gets one of his best), there’s a feeling that certain scenes take forever to make its point. And because tension is limited to one new person finding out the secret at one time, it’s only funny as long as this particular actor is funny. When their desperation clicks, it’s a minute or two of mild laughter. When it doesn’t, it’s mildly painful to sit through.
For a film with such a thin plot, the film spends close to 15 minutes on a character played by Soubin Shahir. Another vague scene brings Antony Perumbavoor as a vindictive police officer but there’s no reason why he behaves so. An entire sub-plot involving an important advertising contract is given way too much importance and we never know Prithviraj’s character enough to understand why this should affect him.
Which is generally the feeling right through Bro Daddy. It’s not even bad enough to elicit a reaction. We get glimpses of classic Mohanlal in a few scenes and you feel relaxed when you see him in a film that’s really not about him. What more can one say about a movie that’s eventually about three men and their feelings, even when it involves two pregnancies?