‘Malaysia to Amnesia’ movie review: Quite a bit of laughter in a predictable story

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Express News Service

Radha Mohan is a filmmaker who reminds us of the importance of loving flawed people, of retaining hope in difficult situations. As a sucker for feel-good films, I was naturally excited about the director’s new film, Malaysia to Amnesia, but the mediocre trailer of this ZEE5 film served as a dampener. Thankfully, the film shows that the promotions were perhaps even deceptions aimed at having you come into the film with minimal expectations.

The film takes its own sweet time to introduce its world, but soon, each script element begins blending in, and as the humour begins to kick in, it feels like “Dheiva Seyal”, as Karthik (Karunakaran) often says in this film. Humour, of course, is subjective, and if you are the type to laugh at Viji (Prakash Raj) from Mozhi quipping, “Sir inga irukaaru, andha karapan poochi-a yenga admit panni irukanga?”, this film is your heaven.

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Regardless of the efficacy, there’s no questioning the sincerity of the joke attempts, with the clever wordplay surely making Crazy Mohan smile from the beyond, and even the slapstick humour feeling organic.

The question though is, is efficient humour enough to make this a good film? I am not so sure. If the humour can be said to be in ‘Beast Mode’, the story never rises above ‘Energy Saver Mode’. The film is essentially Sathi Leelavathi, if you replace Ramesh Aravind’s character with, say, Dharmathin Thalaivan’s absent-minded professor played by Rajini.

So predictable are the events that you can easily second-guess each development. The lead cast, however, does its best to keep matters engaging, even during the film’s weakest, cliched moments. It feels like the actors share a rhythm with each other, and their camaraderie helps elevate the effect of their performances. Vaibhav as Arun Kumar, a character faking memory loss, is a reasonably funny presence. His performance, especially in the scenes involving the daughter, serves as atonement for his visible struggle in the emotional segments.

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Vani Bhojan sells the naive Sujatha with finesse, despite the character exemplifying Tamil cinema’s ‘paavapatta housewife’. Her main job seems to be doing household chores through the film.

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This portrayal, and her nickname being Arukkani (a reference to Suhasini’s role in Gopurangal Saivathillai), is disappointing, especially in a Radha Mohan film, given that her purpose seems to be to seek gratification by being servile to the men. Vani, however, refuses to ham up this part, sticking to a grounded, sensible performance.

It’s also in contrast with her contrastingly modern Meera in Oh My Kadavule, and it should be interesting to see where she goes from here. MS Bhaskar’s Mannargudi Narayanan is a deliberately annoying persona, and a key presence in the script. However, it isn’t a good sign when even you, the viewer, gets annoyed by him. During his serious scenes, he still seems to be channelling his character from 8 Thottakkal.

The inconsistent writing transitions don’t help either. Vaibhav’s Arun Kumar addresses Narayanan as ‘mama’ throughout the film, even though he is technically his ‘chiththappa’ and you don’t really get why. These are trivial annoyances, but there are very many like them. And the film asks you to, like the seemingly forgetful Arun Kumar, not pay much heed to logic in enjoying its humour. Can you?

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Director: Radha Mohan
Cast: Vaibhav, Vani Bhojan, Karunakaran, MS Bhaskar
Streaming on: ZEE5

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