During the music recording of his debut film, a filmmaker called Nithin (Deepak Parambol) is sent a track sung by a female voice.
This voice, which seems so familiar to him, triggers emotional memories. As Nithin steps out of the room to be with himself, it’s raining, and more memories rush in.
This image of Deepak evoked that iconic scene in Thoovanathumbikal where Sumalatha’s face materialises in Mohanlal’s mind while it’s heavily raining outside.
The rain takes Nithin back to that first day in high school when he first set eyes on Varsha (Anaswara Ponnambath). See, even she is named after the rain.
Ormayil Oru Shishiram (OOS), shot fully in Thalassery, has Deepak playing a romantic hero for the first time.
This is Deepak venturing into a terrain that Kunchacko Boban made a career out of. OOS is yet another story about one man reminiscing about his lost love.
But did he really lose his love? We get the answer to that only in the film’s final portions.
It’s also a familiar story about a youngster wanting to pursue his true passion, filmmaking, while his parents have something else in mind. So the film is essentially about the two loves in Nithin’s life —Varsha and cinema.
But it’s the former that takes on more prominence. Anyone who has seen Cinema Paradiso or Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya knows that it’s not really a fresh concept.
But since the makers have already stated in interviews that they aren’t attempting new, the film comes free of the burden of high expectations.
Nithin’s high school days have nothing new to offer in terms of storytelling. There are moments where the film seems to be going through a Premam hangover and then there are a couple of portions where it’s trying to emulate the authenticity of something like Poomaram.
But it doesn’t break any new ground with regard to coming-of-age storytelling. It was only last week that we got Thaneer Mathan Dinangal, which has set the bar so high for school-based films that anything that comes later will be measured against its parameters (even though OOS had completed filming much earlier).
But then OOS also has its strengths, which comes mainly in the form of its principal cast, who have all put on a sincere show.
If Deepak can make you forget that he is the same actor who played the abusive husband in Ottamuri Velicham, then it means that whatever he did for this film has worked.
Though a few of the actors had to lose/gain a significant amount of weight to play their high school selves, it still doesn’t come off as very convincing—they look like 30-year-olds in school uniforms.
But what’s lacking in the physicality is made up by their ability to convey their character’s emotions.
Since this is a story set in the early 2000s, when smartphones had not yet shown up, some humour is milked out of situations where the characters have to communicate through landline phones.
Alencier Ley plays Nithin’s rigid father and Mala Parvathy his cool mother. The former detests Nithin’s love for cinema; he wants him to pursue Computer Science and become an engineer.
Nithin’s mother being the more easy-going one, he finds it easier to open up to her.
Given the convincing chemistry shared by these three actors, it’s not hard to see them as a family. Meanwhile, we also get a picture of Varsha’s parents, which is the mirror image of Nithin’s.
Her mother (Neena Kurup) is the rigid one while her father (Ashokan) the cooler one. So Nithin has inherited his open-mindedness from his mother and Varsha, from her father.
It’s also easy to buy the chemistry between Deepak and Anaswara. Nithin, who is armed with an equal measure of coyness and daring, is immensely relatable. Varsha, with her frank and independent nature, also ranks high on the adore-o-meter.
The two complement each other really well. Nithin is a failure as a student but Varsha doesn’t mind.
When he tells her about his filmmaking dreams, she is fully supportive.
On the other hand, Nithin could’ve been the reason for her pursuing a career in singing, eventually landing her at the recording studio.
It’s he who told her long ago that she should make a career out of her talent.
Some of the legendary success stories have a devastating failure story behind them.
In the end, the film is not really about whether the two would end up with each other or not, but rather how the failure of one endeavour can sometimes supply the courage and confidence essential to make another one a success.
It’s this idea in the film that worked for me more than anything else.
Film: Ormayil Oru Shishiram
Cast: Deepak Parambol, Anaswara Ponnambath, Mala Parvathi, Ashokan
Director: Vivek Aryan
(This story originally appeared on cinemaexpress.com)