Director: Arungeorge K David
Cast: Vinay Forrt,
Soorya Gayathri Ashok, Balu Varghese, Shabareesh Varma
This is another one of those films with a plot which can be fit into a short film but stretched beyond bearable length just for the sake of making a full-length film. It's like going to the exam hall without preparing and then filling your answer sheet with so much smoke because you don't want to leave early and let everyone know that you didn't study anything. That's what Ladoo is.
Just when I thought Malayalam cinema was done with plots involving past lovers, frustrated lovers and eloping lovers, here comes a film with elements that we have seen a hundred times before and trying to pass itself off as something fresh. The plot in a nutshell: Two former college buddies meet. One of them, Vinu (Vinay Forrt), tells the other, SK (Shabareesh Varma), that he is planning to elope with a girl, hoping to do a registered marriage later on. SK wants to help and he, along with a couple of other buddies, set out to unite the lovers.
But before that, we get to see a background of SK. He happens to be a huge Allu Arjun fan (an attempt no doubt to pander to the Telugu superstar's fans in Kerala). SK is not exactly what he claims to be. He likes to make himself seem as someone important by regaling others with tales of his false bravado. But the truth is that he hasn't accomplished anything worthwhile in life. His love life is a disaster, actually, he has never been able to make any girl fall for him. When the nerdy Vinu approaches him about his little situation, SK is naturally envious. But there is an interesting twist to Vinu's story and this is among the film's minor pluses.
Once we meet Vinu's girl Angeline, we learn that she is no ordinary girl. She is strong-minded and confident. And newcomer Soorya Gayathri Ashok carries herself very convincingly. You can easily see what drives her and why she is doing all these things, even if she doesn't make sense at times. She is game for anything while the guys are busy being weak and clumsy, and telling each other variations of "We're screwed". (In fact, they say it way too many times that after a point you want to yell, "Alright, alright, we get it.")
For all the exaggerated frenzy presented on screen, there doesn't seem to be much of a conflict to warrant all that. Yes, they're chased by the girl's uncle, a police officer named Joseph Dayanidhi (Bobby Simha) who is supposed to be fearsome. But he doesn't radiate enough menace to make us care about the fate of the so-called 'good guys'. You actually want Dhayanidhi to catch them and give them a good thrashing to make them realise their stupidity.
Also, I found it odd that he speaks in Tamil even though his niece is a Malayali. And in spite of being a cop, he sports a beard and walks around in plainclothes most of the time. But I guess I shouldn't be searching for logic in a film that makes it clear right from the beginning that it has none.
I must admit, however, that it has a self-awareness that is mildly endearing. There is a scene at the very end which is a testament to this. It is the only scene in the entire film that made me laugh. I wish the humour in the rest of the film had the same quality. Also, I have to give props to composer Rajesh Murugesan and cinematographer Gautham Sankar for occasionally enlivening the film.
For something that claims to be a 'feel-good' entertainer, Ladoo created the opposite effect for me. This film left me numb and depressed. The actors look convincing and committed, sure, but when they are part of a film riddled with cliches and lame jokes, their performances become almost oblivious. Every attempt from their part to entertain you goes in vain because the whole time you're distracted by the dullness of the proceedings. The wafer-thin plot and stale humour work to its detriment.