International Business Times India Rating: 2.5
During my three years stint at St. Teresas College, Ernakulam, I heard many stories about the neighbouring Maharajas College. The tales of campus politics and recurring fights between the student groups made the college appear like a place where angels fear to tread.
Director Tom Emmatty's debut movie Oru Mexican Aparatha is set against the backdrop of the same college. The movie is all about the fights between two students' groups, KSQ and SFY. (in lieu of KSU and SFI). And it seems the hearsay had an element of truth in it.
OMA begins in the 1970's, when the Indian Prime Minister declared a state of emergency across the country. Saghavu Kochaniyan (Tovino Thomas) emerges as the hero of the campus by becoming the leader of SFY, who later becomes a martyr at the hands of police. Cut to 2000's and the campus is brimming with many lively faces donning colourful attires. The film narrates how SFY comrades Subhash (Neeraj Madhav), Paul (Tovino) and few others' attempt to leave a mark in the campus, ruled by KSQ- led by Roopesh (Roopesh Peethambaran).
Tovino plays dual roles in OMA, as 70's leader Kochaniyan- a mature comrade and a careless college boy Paul- who becomes the leader of SFY in the second half. Paul's bohemian life and humour sense are sure to impress the audience, but his quick metamorphosis to a responsible SFY member looked less convincing. Also, his dialogue delivery failed to hit the notes at times.
However, it is Neeraj Madhav, who outshines the cast with his character Subhash in his best performance till date. His performance as a comrade, whose solo aim is to raise the party flag in the campus, was outstanding. The maturity he showed in handling the role deserves a special mention; he has for sure come a long way as teenager Monichan in the family entertainer Drishyam.
Roopesh, who made his debut as Thomas Chacko (Mohanlal's childhood) in Spadikam, plays the antagonist in OMA. He gets equal importance like Tovino and Neeraj's characters and delivers a natural performance, especially the climax scenes when he becomes violent after losing the election. Gayathri Suresh has done a neat job for her small part.
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Vishnu Noolu as Jomy, who makes us laugh every time he opens his mouth, Sudhi Koppa as manipulator Monappan, Jino John, who played the right hand of Roopesh, have lived up to their characters. Jino's character might irk a few audience. His constant screaming yanked my chains at times, and I think the credit goes to his convincing portrayal of the role. It has to be noted that in real life, Jino was the first KSU leader to become the chairman of Maharajas College after 37 years.
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Are you a communist? Then OMA will give you goosebumps for sure as was evident from the hooting and howling in the theatre, and I am experiencing such an audience response in Bengaluru for the first time, just like how it would be if I had watched it in Kerala. So what about others who lean to other political ideologies? Will they enjoy it? There are many moments in OMA for them as well. The movie is not just about the left wing glory, but also shows how they too play tactics to win elections.
OMA doesn't look like the debut directorial venture of Tom. The movie had many realistic moments that instantly connect with audience; boys hostel scenes, campus romance, politics as well as drug addiction of youngsters in college to name a few. The songs of OMA, composed by Manikandan Iyyappan, especially Ivalaaro and Kalippu Katta Kalippu, and Renjith Chittade's Emanmare Emanmare are spot on. Even the poem Krishnane Ariyaamo recited by a girl, will impress the audience.
The script could have been made better by giving a proper explanation of few incidents. Many people might have already received spoiler messages on "the villain of OMA", but even after watching the film, I am still not sure if he was actually the villain. And why he was missing in the climax scene. Just like me, few others were also seen leaving the theatre with few doubts unanswered.
Though the movie was said to be screening with English subtitles, it was missing at INOX Lido Mall in Bengaluru.
Oru Mexican Aparatha is an engaging campus entertainer that will take us on a nostalgic ride. All actors have given an impressive performance in the movie, which makes it a watchable entertainer. And Neeraj clearly outshines Tovino's character.
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