Accidental Farmer & Co, on SonyLIV, Has A Madcap Premise But It Barely Entertains

The SonyLIV show is about a lazy man who wanders about aimlessly. The same can be said of the series
Accidental Farmer & Co, on SonyLIV, Has A Madcap Premise But It Barely Entertains

Director: Sugan Jay

Cast: Vaibhav, Ramya Pandian, Vinodhini, Badava Gopi

Around the 30 minute mark in SonyLIV's Accidental Farmer & Co, the innocent but sluggish Chellakannu (Vaibhav) offers double the usual price for daily wagers to work on his farm (one of the few assets he inherits from his grandfather). With zero knowledge on farming, he seeks the help of Engaalu (a friend of Chella’s father), but the latter doesn’t turn up at the right time. So the daily wagers are paid even when no work gets done. This repeats for the next couple of days, even as the workers eat, chat and take their afternoon naps. Boredom gradually starts to kick in. And as the daily wagers wait for their work to begin, we wait with impatience for the central plot to kickstart.

Chella suddenly finds a naturally–growing plant (at least that’s what he thinks) on his farm. He soon figures out that it is a medicinal herb with the help of school boy Selva (who doubles up as his expert advisor) and Moorthy, an experimental physician who treats using homegrown remedies. But in reality, it is a marijuana plant variant. This quirky idea is only further enhanced by quirkier characters and their bizarre actions. 

Chella then manages to assemble a team to figure out the situation: Sheela, a married woman who is now separated; Engaalu’s sharp witted wife; Nalamakka, a middle-aged woman who loves her village, and a postman. There are two types of members in this group: dimwits and geeks. While the former believes they can grow rich by planting medicinal herbs, the canny ones, who know the truth, make use of the moment. A lot of things could go wrong with these many characters. However, the makers ensure that each of them have a well-established motive of their own. The series also heavily depends on their camaraderie, relying on the reaction shots to bring out the much-needed humour.

Creator Balaji Mohan and director Sugan Jay have added nice little touches to the show and as a result, the story does not focus just on their farming routine. For instance, the subplots of love and relationships are approached in a more progressive manner. When Chella falls in love with Sheela, no one in the village except Sheela’s father questions their relationship. What Sheela’s father shows is also only concern; he asks Chella to wait until Sheela gets divorced. In a more fleshed-out relationship, the unmarried Nalamakka finds true love in the postman, who sees the village through her eyes and understands why she wants to stay back. 

The main female characters in the story — Sheela, Nalamakka, and Engaalu’s wife who is fondly called Athaachi — all have well-developed arcs and are often on their own pursuits. In one scene, when Sheela’s father asks her to play the nadaswaram, she says, “You asked me to learn the nadaswaram when I was young, I did. You asked me not to perform after I attained puberty, and I didn't. You told me to marry when I was just 19, and I did. Here I am, separated from my husband, at least now, let me do what I want.” Later, when everyone thinks she will succumb to the pressures of patriarchy, she fights back.

But this wonderfully wacky setup is wasted on a series that never gains momentum. The quips are restricted to Moorthy’s crazy experiments, Selva’s clever antics and the innocence of a group that doesn’t know anything about marijuana. It is not that the show isn’t funny, but the scenes get redundant and you are left with several bland sequences that do not drive the plot forward. 

The series is a comedy of errors; so when the tables turn and the gang is almost on the verge of getting caught by the narcotics department, their blunders blow up, giving us a rib-tickling climactic sequence. In one scene, Engaalu realises the impact of the burning sun on his crops. So, he immediately builds a shelter to keep the heat at bay. But the makers fail to do the same with the series. Because even if the seed and soil are good, the plant needs careful maintenance and some weeding for a better harvest. 

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