Mammootty's One movie review: Populist plot, lofty idealism

If you thought Mammotty-starrer One echoes the present political scenario in poll-bound Kerala, the fault lies elsewhere. One is not the first movie with huge political overtones to come out ahead of a volatile poll. 


Mammootty himself had enacted late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, aka YSR, the two-time Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, ahead of the last Assembly polls in that state. And the legendary NTR was brought back to life by his son Nandamuri Balakrishna almost the same time. It is another matter that YSR's son became the Andhra CM after that polls.


Here, we have had enough political dramas with CM as the hero. But the build up to the release threw hints that the lead character had a striking resemblance to the incumbent Kerala CM.


The build up to the introduction of the star, which took more than thirty minutes of screen time, also may drum up such hints. But One is more of a populist film rather than a political thriller.


So first a perception is woven about CM Kadakkal Chandran as a feared leader, which is also the reason why there was a huge buzz around One.


The filmmakers, who had hinted that Kadakkal Chandran can be similar to any leader in another political camp, may have a point.


This curiosity factor can easily be the motive that would drive hordes to the theatres after a pandemic-induced lull.


But realisation should dawn that One, directed by Santosh Viswanath and written by Bobby-Sanjay duo, was slated to be released in May 2020. It didn't for obvious reasons.


So the drama surrounding One now is a default one.


The animated theatrics that would have normally come into play in a political pot-boiler is not the essence of One.


Instead it hinges on the humane aspects of an idealist CM, akin to Yatra on YSR. 

One has a host of actors to fill in various shades of the political spectrum, but Mammootty's lead character is given utmost priority by the filmmakers. That perhaps dwarfs any other character inlcuding that of the Machiavellian opposition leader – a character which has been infused life by Murali Gopy.


The lofty idealism of the CM and his college pal, who is now the leader of his party, means there is no friction between the two power centres.


By default this scenario crushes the chances of theatrics, which would have been expected by a  political audience. Joju George as the staunch partyman does not try to make the CM fall in line, though the fine actor has come up with sublime intensity in some moments when the CM sweepingly ignores practical politics to embrace lofty idealism.


The second half is more about political statements as the CM plays to the political gallery, giving it an aura of idealism.


The filmmakers have no qualms in making the CM himself admit that in an emotional speech in the state assembly.


Political nuances have also been given a go-by as the CM himself gets on with a controversial legislation without a discussion in a party fora. But in stories and filmi plots such questions need not be asked, as wags would suggest.


One has hit the theatres at an apt time as it appeals more to the power of the electorate than the politics of power.


One would likely pull audiences to the cinemas mostly to quench your curiosity about default resemblances.

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