Puthan Panam Review – An Open Letter to Ranjith

Ranjith and Mammootty in Puthan Panam

** Few Spoilers ahead

Dear Ranjith

Thirakkadha, Paleri manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha , Pranchiyettan and the Saint, Indian Rupee , Spirit –  You have made other wonderful scripts and movies but these five movies often strike me in particular. Because you were amazingly consistent during this period between 2008 and 2012 where you wrote and directed these 5 movies successively. Each handled really different themes and had leading characters who were distinct from each other. These 5 movies are still regarded highly today. What really happened to that fine film-maker after that ? If movies like Kadal Kadannoru Mathukutty and Loham were disappointing, I think with Puthan Panam , you have touched an all time low.

Puthan Panam’s trailer suggested that it would extensively deal with demonetization. But it handles the theme only for about 20-25 minutes in the movie. We could have ignored it if you had a thrilling screenplay like Indian Rupee. But it fails on that front too. Nithyananda Shenoy is spiritedly portrayed by Mammootty , the actor using his expertise in dialects to great effect once again. But I have to say it is one of poorest characters you have written and you have clearly let the actor down.

The character is first seen furious when he is felt cheated and handed over with 25 crore of invalid notes just an hour before the notes are banned. But surprisingly we don’t see that anger or tension when he is met with an even bigger tragedy.  He is in such a huge mess and yet you make him walk around cracking jokes with Mammukoya. There is no urgency seen when he has to take back the gun from the kid and save himself . One wonder what was the whole point of getting back his revolver when he exposes himself in front of Siddique ( the police officer) multiple times and then anyways makes himself the prime suspect at the end ?

Also what is with the final fight ? How is it necessary in this plot  ? How is the hero flying in air or bashing villains around in air suited to the age he is portraying ? The kid who plays a major role was smart but yet you make him look annoying to us. What is with that song where the kid and his friends dancing and jumping in joy because they have a gun with them ?! What is with the obsession with the dialects. Indian Rupee and Pranchiyettan intervened it neatly with some really interesting plots. Here instead you bring characters who speak Kasargod, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Trivandrum etc etc slangs and let the viewers ponder most of the time on who is speaking what !

The only good thing you have done in this movie is casting Baiju in a significant role. It was a pleasure to see the actor on a roll as usual when delivering witty one-liners. If not for Baiju and his terrific performance, it would have been a really tedious task to sit through this movie.

Puthan Panam looked to me as Ranjith’s “Double Barrel” . It even bore similarity to Lijo Jose Pellissery ‘s dud film with several characters wandering around with no particular aim. The difference though was Lijo Jose bounced back with a path breaking movie after Double Barrel. Can you do the same after Puthan Panam?  I am not giving hope yet because I still admire the genius who gave those five movies I listed first on a trot, especially during a period when our industry lacked solid scripts.