Cast: Pranav Mohanlal, Rachel David, Manoj K. Jayan, Kalabhavan Shajon
Director: Arun Gopy
It takes a full three seconds before the name 'Pranav' is prefixed to 'Mohanlal' in the opening credits of Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu (21st Century). We're forewarned…this is not a film that will let us forget whose son we're watching. "Who do you think I am? Vincent Gomez?" asks Appu (Pranav), when a shady deal is suggested to make a quick buck, referring to Mohanlal's character in Rajavinte Makan (Son of The King). Later, when a drunk Zaya (Zaya David) loses her way, she tells Appu, "Namukku choyichu choyichu povaam (let's keep asking for directions)". Another reference, this time it's the iconic dialogue from Ayal Kadha Ezhuthukayanu. Then, the best friend character/comic relief jokingly calls a woman Prabha Narendran, the role Poornima Jayaram played in Manjil Virinja Pookal. I could go on, but then this review would end up looking a lot like Arun Gopy's movie.
If only Rajini had had a son. He could have stepped back and made his son do a self-referencing Rajini fest like Petta, which, in essence, seems to be the idea behind Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu. But how much is too much? Arun Gopy doesn't seem to have a clue.
Set in Goa, the film begins with Abbasi (Kalabhavan Shajon), a gangster/money lender demanding that Baba (Manoj K Jayan) return the 20 lakh he borrowed a while ago. A brawl breaks out and the defeated Baba calls on his son to save him from the mess he's got himself into. That's when we're hero-introduced to Appu, in slow motion, as he rides the waves. Appu doesn't beat up the men who have tied his father up. Instead, he negotiates cleverly and gets two months to repay the loan. A good 20 minutes has passed at this point and naturally one isn't wrong in assuming that we're going to witness a film about how this amount is returned with their meager means. But no, the director has no such plans. The film isn't about that at all.
That's when we meet Zaya, and all that urgency to make that money is quickly forgotten. It's a love story now. Appu and Zaya's meet-cute covers every Goan cliché one can think of; from beaches to churches, casinos to the Dona Paula, it's all in there. Even clichés can be made tolerable if the chemistry works on screen but there's no such luck there either. The dialogues, with lines as cheesy as, "Ithra manoharamaya nimishangal ente jeevithathil undayitilla (these are some of the best moments of my life"), only make it worse. The one factor going for the film is Abhinandan Ramajunan's pleasant cinematography.
And just when you think things can't get worse, the scene shifts to Kerala when the film takes on the form of a social commentary about "the society we live in". Heavy-duty topics, like child abuse, gender politics, and parental neglect are thrown around without ever giving them the time or the seriousness they deserve. A whole spiritual angle is inserted, which again contributes nothing to the film. By this point, everything seems a blur in this insurmountable mess.
One feels for Pranav though. He looks like an arts student who was forced to take science by his parents. Despite all the Mohanlal references, it's a Dulquer reference that worked best. A dejected Appu, down and out, looks up and says, "Njan Dulquer Salmaan onnum illa (I'm not Dulquer Salmaan). We couldn't have agreed more.