'Perilloor Premier League' is not far away from 'Kunjiramayanam,' yet remains fresh | Web series review

Perilloor Premier League
'Perilloor Premier League' posters. Photo: IMDb

Perilloor, the world crafted by writer Deepu Pradeep for Praveen Chandran’s 'Perilloor Premier League' (PPL) on Hotstar, bears a striking resemblance to the Desham he created for his 2015 comedy 'Kunjiramayanam.' It's as if, had Deepu taken the left turn at the 5km-mark board in 'Kunjiramayanam,' we would have found ourselves in Perilloor back in 2015 itself.

Similarities extend beyond topography and dimwit characters; plot highlights such as an NRI struggling to find a bride and a B-grade movie becoming a decisive factor in a key character’s life, add to the deja vu. However, this comedy deliberately avoids the term political satire since Malayalam moviegoers have seen KG George’s ‘Panchavadi Palam’ and similar works, offering an easy viewing experience.

As Malavika (Nikhila Vimal) narrates, "Perilloor is set somewhere between the boundless sky and the abyss of hell." Praveen’s decision to have characters speak Malayalam in different dialects from Malabar, mainly from Northern regions, adds an element of mystery to Perilloor's geographical location. Sunny Wayne’s Valluvanadan Malayalam, though, takes the fluidity out of his performance, making Sreekuttan stand out in the crowd.

The casting is spot-on, from main characters to junior actors. Top-billed cast members like Sunny, Nikhila, Shivaji, Vijayaraghavan, RJ Vijitha, Sajin Cherukayil, Sarath Sabha, etc., had an easy outing. As the crooked politician Peethambaran, a tribute to Bharath Gopi’s Dushasana Kurup in ‘Panchavadi Palam,’ Vijayaraghavan is in his zone. Yet the character falls short of challenging him as an actor. However, the standout performers in this web series are Ashokan as ‘Keman’ (Showman) Soman and Aju Varghese as ‘Psycho’ Balachandran.

The intricate details with which Deepu has drawn these two characters, combined with the performances of Ashokan and Aju, consequentially result in viewers developing a soft corner towards Soman and detest Balachandran. Soman’s sportsman spirit and unflinching confidence to bounce back, despite repeated setbacks, are inspiring. Though from two different poles, Soman’s confidence reminds one of Ashokan’s yesteryear character Vishnu from KG George’s ‘Yavanika.’ Balachandran’s deceitful nature makes us loathe him. ‘Kerala Crime Files’ and now ‘PPL,’ web series showcase Aju mastering the nuances of subtle acting.

Perilloor’s every shade of green and grey is convincingly captured in National Award winner Vinesh Bengalan’s production design. However, the seven episodes, each approximately 40 minutes long, may prompt questions about Praveen’s hesitation (potentially influenced by the demands of the OTT platform) to trim the script and eliminate cliches. His inattention to finer details in storytelling may come as a speedbreaker. For instance, showing young Sreekuttan in torn jeans in the late 1990s or early 2000s (timeline set considering the prime-time TV release of Shakeela’s ‘Kinnara Thumbikal’) could raise questions about Perilloor’s exposure to the Western world.

On another occasion, Vasu (Sreekuttan’s younger brother) and Sreekuttan, despite being amidst a sea of posters and pamphlets bearing Malavika’s photo, only spot her when they come under her larger-than-life cutout erected opposite to their flex-printing shop. However, these moments are rare and wouldn’t spoil the watching experience much. Praveen Chandran’s ‘Perilloor Premier League’ (PPL) on Hotstar is an ideal pick for binge-watching on a lazy weekend.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.