Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu (2017) Malayalam Movie Review by Veeyen


Baiju is certainly someone we have known from close quarters; in fact he might even be you or me, and Kumbalam might easily be that tiny hamlet where we had learned to love, lose and live, and before we ourselves knew, had grown up, leaving behind a trail of evocative memories. Clever, enjoyable, witty and poignant by turns, ‘Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu’ is an entertaining character drama with a subtle, pertinent note concealed within its folds.


Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu Review

In ‘Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu’, film maker Ranjan Pramod drapes a highly relatable social issue in long, sinuous garbs of realism. A jolly jaunt of a movie with its heart right in place, ‘Rakshathikari Baiju Oppu’ shines with an execution that is sublime.

Baiju (Biju Menon) is a government employee who spends very little time at his office, and instead remains busy with the management of Kumabalam Brothers, the sports and arts club at Kumbalam. At thirty five plus, Baiju is revered by the youngsters in the neighborhood, and as much as he remains a good natured brag, there hardly occurs an event at Kumabalam without Baiju at its helm.

It is a minefield of formulaic occurrences that ‘Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu’ drives across, and yet each of these incidents appears so relatable, that they hardly strike us as a chestnut. On the contrary, it initially draws you in as a spectator, and in no time lets you be a part of their never-ending joys and jubilations.

Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu Review Baiju running into his old friend George (Dileesh Pothan) is one of the finest and the most humorous moments in the film. George who has emigrated to the US seems to have done incredibly well, and without a thought hops on to rear of a pickup rickshaw with the Kumbalam Brothers, ordering his driver to follow the vehicle in his Benz, to a playground where a match is about to ensue. Back with the winner’s trophy, an ecstatic Baiju and George settle down to have a heart’s talk,long  after the rest of the group has called it a day. And as the sun comes up, George leaves promising to be in touch, confessing that he probably has lost out on a few good things in life.

Ranjan Pramod does not let Baiju assume super human proportions and this precisely remains the secret behind the film’s triumph. His sense of acceptance buds out of a practical realization that development is inevitable. As the play ground gives way to a sprawling hospital, Baiju doesn’t wage a war against it. He strikes a right balance through his appeal that the younger generation be not denied open play spaces; that progress and displacement be accompanied by feasible, alternative solutions to the exigencies that are left in their wake.

The frailties that are so apparent in the man make him one among us, and he is genuinely terrified by a local drug dealer who threatens to take his life. He goes all wobbly when facing the final balls that would decide the outcome of a match, and hurriedly steps out answering an imaginary call when his wife brings up the perilous proposal of some jewelry shopping.

Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu Review It’s not one or two, but an assortment of characters that Ranjan Pramod sets on his stage, and they brilliantly complement each other with each of their individual stories charmingly weaving in and out of the chief narrative. The two love tales that find a mention in it – that of Unni and Sreekala and of Manoj and Rose – are as vibrant as the stirring account of a young villager who finds a place in the IPL team, that drives an entire rural community into throes of exaltation.  There are the pent-up sighs that one leaves behind back home when a lucrative job at the Middle East beckons, and the very ordinary, everyday nags on borders and boundaries.

Running for almost fifteen minutes short of three hours, ‘Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu’ is a lengthy film by any standard, though there are very few moments in that come across as over done. Barring a couple of vintage song sessions that sound a bit too protracted, it surprisingly strikes us as a quick watch that quite breezily pulls off most of its games with aplomb.

The thigh jerking simpleton who is here, there and everywhere is etched to perfection by Biju Menon, and it’s a pleasure to watch him in films as these. Deepak Parambol reasserts that he is an actor who truly deserves better films and roles than the kind that is dished out to him and Hareesh Perumanna gets his one-bolt-less act, just right. Who can forget Dileesh Pothan in that stellar cameo that had us in splits or the two awesome fresh faces who played Sreekala and Rose? There is hardly anyone in the film who does not leave a mark, and ‘Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu’ is replete with genuine performances from its huge supporting cast. The sync sound has been brilliantly captured by Smijith Kumar. Prashanth Raveendrans striking frames are redolent of a treasured not-so-distant past, and Bijibal’s musical score nothing short of delightful.

Baiju is certainly someone we have known from close quarters; in fact he might even be you or me, and Kumbalam might easily be that tiny hamlet where we had learned to love, lose and live, and before we ourselves knew, had grown up, leaving behind a trail of evocative memories. Clever, enjoyable, witty and poignant by turns, ‘Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu’ is an entertaining character drama with a subtle, pertinent note concealed within its folds.


Verdict: Good


 

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