Malayalam cinema has always been a difficult terrain for remakes as the story lines structured for audiences elsewhere, often found it difficult to gel with the tastes of our viewers. Even though that is the case, the recent years witnessed a lot of remakes in Malayalam, with very few of them making an impression among the spectators. 'Unnam' is the latest one to add to the list, and this being the first of the remakes by the veteran director Sibi Malayil, there were lot of expectations on it breaking new grounds in Mollywood.
And first things first, hats off to the director for proudly proclaiming in the opening titles that 'Unnam' is an authorised adaption of 'Johny Gaddhar'-the original brilliant Hindi thriller by Shriram Ragahavan. For all others who are ripping off other films without acknowledgement, please remember giving right attribution to the sources had never taken away the appreciation due to well made movies.
'Unnam' is all about a gang of five, composing of Sunny (lal), an ex-gangster living in the memories of his dead wife who was a singer, a greedy Tommy( Prashanth Narayan) who runs a bar ,Murugan (Nedumudi Venu)a failed gambler , Basheer (Noushi) a smuggler and Aloyshie (Asif Ali) a bar singer who maintains a secret relation with Tommy's wife Jennie(Rima Kallingal). On an unexpected call from a Police C I Balakrishna(Sreenivasan) from Bangalore, who wants to sell a bag of heroin worth five crores in the market at half its rate, Sunny decides to revert to his long abandoned ways and alerts the other four about the prospects of making easy money . They brings in 50 lakhs each in the expectations to double it in another couple of days, once they are into the deal. Things go fine until one of them decides to jeopardise the plot, double cross the others and take flight with the entire money they had raised collectively. Not just that, the traitor also manages to settle back in the gang without anyone suspecting him of treachery.
The movie sticks to its original in the course of events, and the scriptwriter Swathy Bhasker has wisely placed the events in the backdrop of Kochi, though his dialogue writing is no way exceptional . But what is missing from the original is the mood and treatment of the thriller and pace at which it unfolds. As dead bodies pile up and the vengeful partners try to find out the cheat, the execution of murders are no- where brilliant and believable as with the original.
Once again, the director seems to be the culprit, who couldn't bring any thrilling aspects or technical wizardry including good BGM's or editing patterns. The sets of bar and even the flat looks artificial with props and designs projecting all over. May be a case of failed mis-en-scene, the movie also doesn't feature any intended gags in its screen time of 130 minutes.
Talking about the performances, Asif Ali is reasonably better than his 'Asuravithu', but his drawbacks are once again visible in sequences that demanded heavy emoting. The star of the film is undoubtedly Prashanth Narayan. His performances as a dreadfully ravenous youngster,and especially when he realizes the shattering double-play in the climax lead was perfect. His dubbing was excellent at times but in the opening reels and a few other instances failed to make an impact. Lal, Shwetha Menon, K P AC lalitha and Reema kallingal were good in their roles though Reema's hairdo was a bit weird. Nedumudi Venu and Sreenivasan - the definite miscasts in their roles, tried to make their performances believable, with little success.
The songs and BGM in the movie were not up to mark, with the lyrics even worse. Ajayan Vincent in camera and Bijibal in editing just managed create a mediocre work.
All in all, 'Unnam' misses its target by a margin, though it is a rare genre of movie in Mollywood. Not a badly done film for most who haven't seen the original.