From the director of Piravi (1988), a classic Malayalam Cinema which won Caméra d’Or – Mention d’honneur at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival – now comes a fantasy perception. Shaji N. Karun has always been relevant to the contemporary times, whether in form of Vaanaprastham (1999) or even Kutty Srank (2010), with Olu (She) he presents a philosophical, spiritual as well as hard-hitting subject-matter. Olu is the tale of a girl (Esther Anil) who gets gang raped and sunk to the bottom of the backwaters where she can mysteriously survive and live for the next nine months – until she delivers her ‘baby from rape’.
Shaji N. Karun’s transcendental feeling are submerged throughout the film, as the film takes a dive into an innocent desire of a feminine protagonist, it attempts to cleanse realms of spirituality. Olu doesn’t restrict itself underwater, on the surface, a. self-indulgent, greedy humans and b. subtle conflict of existence between Buddhism vs. Hinduism. At heart, it beats with sincerity and pure devotion – it’s a give and take between two souls, a divine and a human. Juxtaposition of elements like feminism, religion, art and blind faith make the narrative incoherent but a thoughtful one. Hence, the fantasy structure plays an important part in the film, it manages to convince the happenings.
Once the film travels beyond Olu’s water it gets staged, and its hard to believe the amateurish scenes from a skilful director. There’s a Mumbai sequence which plays unstoppably with fake accent, body language and unnecessary montages which doesn’t provoke any feelings but exhaustion. Also, its difficult to decipher whether the makers were actually trying to show off various stock footage of Mumbai(?). Editor A. Sreekar Prasad puts the incoherent narrative at pace; nevertheless, as it progresses from divinity to chaos – the editing too gets choppy. Esther Anil is impressive as Olu but somewhere deep down she fails to achieve the realisation of the character. Shane Nigam is an one-note actor, its hard to differentiate his acting versatility from Eeda (2018).
Olu is a fantasy perception where transcendental feelings are submerged under a strong philosophical subject-matter and a lost crescendo in filmmaking. There’s a thoughtful subtext and water motif regarding treatment of feminism, the only finest takeaway. But, I was thoroughly disappointed by Shaji N. Karun’s latest perception which at a certain point looked deception to my over-excitement, is it?
Fiction | Time: 109 Mins
Section: International Competition: Innovation in Moving Images | Country: India
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