Director: Syam Dhar
Cast: Mammootty, Dileesh Pothan, Asha Sarath, Deepti Sati, Innocent
Pullikkaran Staraa (The Gentleman Is A Star), directed by Syam Dhar, begins well enough. An army man, unable to take any more of the Indo-Pak war, returns home, to Idukki — and it turns out that it was the separation from his wife he was really unable to take. The couple reunites. The doors close. When they open, the wife is heavily pregnant. The gently whimsical (and amusing, it must be said) tone continues when the baby is born, and its hand accidentally brushes against the breast of a “plump nurse,” as the voiceover puts it. A series of similar accidents ensure that the boy, Rajakumaran, is branded with a “reputation.” As an adult (Mammootty), the mere mention of his name causes married women to pull up their saris closer to the neck.
You think you’re watching a love triangle, but the film has other ideas, bad ones — like paralleling this search for a soulmate with Rajakumaran’s attempt to lose his virginity with the aid of a sex worker
When Rajakumaran, who’s inordinately fond of baggy kurtas (it’s practically a character trait), lands up in Kochi, a friend (Dileesh Pothan) and a neighbour (Innocent) hatch an idea to fix his reputation. “Find a woman. Get married.” The script takes this advice seriously. It saddles Rajakumaran with two women, the similarly named Manjari (Asha Sarath) and Manjima (Deepti Sati). You think you’re watching a love triangle, but the film has other ideas, bad ones — like paralleling this search for a soulmate with Rajakumaran’s attempt to lose his virginity with the aid of a sex worker. The scene is horrifying, not just because it’s done so badly but because they hired a great actor and this is what they came up with.
Mammootty is lost — and who wouldn’t be, when the screenplay is so directionless? One moment, Rajakumaran seems to be flirting with Manjari. The next, he seems to be cheering up Manjima, who recovers rather quickly from a boyfriend who dumps her. Then, he’s scaling down a cliff to save a child in danger of falling into the abyss below. “WTF” doesn’t begin to cover our emotional state. The only parts that work, somewhat, are those that show Rajakumaran at work, as a teacher’s trainer. He has interesting ideas, like how reading can help cultivate a visual sense. Apparently, it can’t help evaluate a script.