Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal

Director: Kamal

Cast: Vinayakan, Dileesh Pothan, Riddhi Kumar

The heroine gets a sort of introductory jig where she dances shoulder to shoulder with a few of her friends. They laugh, giggle, swing and do the customary girl bonding song that’s been a redundant trope in Malayalam cinema for a long time. The hero enters in a similar fashion, though he is hanging from a cliff, after a selfie attempt with friends goes wrong. It’s perhaps Director Kamal’s version of trying to tell the audience that he is really clued into modern times and in tune with young minds.

Typically, Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal grapples with this predicament throughout the narrative. A veteran director’s clumsy attempts to please a new generation with his old tricks in a narrative that’s way outdated (90s), with cliched characters and awful writing. The film never gets on track from the beginning. PMK unfolds lazily in Kozhikode and moves to Lakshadweep, and you state blankly at the screen for the first 20 minutes, allowing the scattered characters to chatter and move on, impatiently wondering where it is all leading.

Then the protagonist descends — Vinayakan as Haider, who is introduced underwater, with a yawning backstory about a mother who gave birth to him in water and how he is the son of the sea. Like a desi Aquaman with his sphere. What appears to be an interesting angle of a Muslim household ruled by women takes a preposterous and flaky turn. We are told about this formidable matriarch who had a daughter out of wedlock, who, in turn, gave birth to another child, who is the heroine. So, the heroine lives a sheltered life, with a private tutor and her own classes for senior citizens. The characters are lazily strewn all over, without adding anything to the narrative.

At the core you have a silly old romance between the daughter and a lad who comes to Lakshadweep to repair an old yacht owned by the matriarch. Also, offensive as may be, it is clear that director Kamal is still stuck in a 90s’ time machine, where the hero not only falls madly in love at first sight but also stalks her feverishly like a dachshund. The lady clearly says no at first, but he grabs her underwater and forcefully kisses her. She blushes thinking about it (groan!), and the romance begins.

The irony is in how the director trolls older films — the hero, who is also a Mohanlal fanatic and an aspiring actor (supremely pointless details!) tells her that “that’s how they do it in the movies earlier.” He even apologises for losing it like Balan K Nair in the older movies (double groan!).

The biggest downer is Vinayakan, who plays a caricature, an awfully written character who primarily works as the matriarch’s bodyguard and has a dark secret. The posters created the impression that Vinayakan has a meaty role, but after the silly build-up he gets in the beginning of the film, he stops with growling like a beast and hunting sharks. The actor looks disoriented and disillusioned. A sentiment the audience shares with him.

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