Discusses serious issues.
O Baby (Malayalam)
- Cast: Dileesh Pothan, Devadath, Haniya Nafisa, Shinu Syamalan, and Saji Soman
- Direction: Ranjan Pramod
- Producers: Dileesh Pothan and Abhishek Sashidharan
- Music: Varun Krishna and Pranav Das
- Runtime: 2 hours 6 minutes
The title of O Baby gives the impression that it’s a love story. But the film has two aspects associated with the title. It is a love story and also the name of a pivotal character in the movie — Baby (Dileesh Pothan).
The story is set in 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdown. O Baby is Ranjan Pramod’s fourth directorial after Photographer (2005), Rose Guitarinal (2013), and Rakshadikari Baiju (2017).
Ranjan Pramod shined as a successful screenwriter, thanks to his successful ventures like Naran (2005) and Manasinakkare (2003). While his movies are mostly offbeat, unlike his previous films, O Baby is an intense drama that discusses serious issues.
O Baby is set in the high ranges of the Idukki district.
Baby is the caretaker of a 250-acre land owned by the Thiruvachola family headed by an ailing Valyappachan. The family members live in their ancestral house due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
The arrival of Stanley (Vishnu Govind) and his wife in their house gives a twist to the story.
Basil (Devadath) is Baby’s son and Mini (Haniya Nafisa) is a member of the Thiruvachola family. They both belong to different classes.
A conflict erupts between the two families after a rumour spreads that Basil and Mini are in love. The cunning Stanley and his wife are responsible for the rift, even though Baby is a loyal caretaker.
Kunjumon (Saji Soman) is Mini’s dad. But he doesn’t have any voice in the family as Valyappachan and Kuttachan (Raghunath Paleri) are the decision-makers of the family.
Valyappachan and Kuttachan take some crucial decisions without the knowledge of Kunjumon and other family members. One of the decisions includes the marriage of Merin, Mini’s elder sister.
O Baby‘s plot mainly deals with the rift between Baby and Thiruvachola family after news of Mini and Basil’s love story is spread.
Baby’s lone fight with the family to whom he was loyal forms the crux. What happens to their rivalry and do the families mend their ways is what all the story is about.
Through O Baby, Ranjan Pramod has dared to raise certain issues. Baby decides to leave the place after a warning from Valyappachan — that his family won’t be spared.
Basil asks Baby some pertinent questions at this point — “This land was grabbed from our forefathers by the Thiruvachola family. Then, what right do they have to ask us to flee?”
This is a direct question asked to the planters and government who grabbed the land of people living in the forest areas.
Mini’s sister Merin raises another important point. She declares that she won’t marry a person even if she is forced into an engagement because it’s her life and she will decide how she wants to live.
The movie also talks about the patriarchal outlook of a rich family that owns several acres of land. Even women in the family are flag-bearers of patriarchy.
Mini always questions this discrimination, but she never gets support from anyone.
Life of downtrodden
O Baby showcases the lives of people dependent on a plantation in Idukki. The warmth and brotherhood in their lives are shown in the movie.
The relationship between Basil and his father Baby is a major highlight of the movie.
Baby is loyal to his owners, but Basil is a new-age teenager. Baby feels that Basil speaks against the Thiruvachola family since he is educated.
The love story between Baby and his wife Suja (Dr Shinu Syamalan), is another drawing factor. An intimate scene of the couple is not something common in a Malayalam mainstream movie.
O Baby also portrays how the backward class is oppressed by the rich. Even labourers come in favour of the rich as they are paid well.
O Baby has some fine performances by Dileesh Pothan and newcomers like Devdath and Haniya Nafisa.
Being the protagonist, Dileesh Pothan gets good screen space. Saji Soman, son of yesteryear actor Soman, makes a comeback after a long time. He does well as Jomon.
Vishnu Govind, who plays the negative character in the movie, excels.
Shinu Syamalan as Suja does justice to her role as a mother and wife.
Basil is safe in the hands of Devadath who plays the love interest of Mini.
Haniya Nafisa gets a key role to play as the catalyst of actions in the story.
Raghunath Paleri plays a different character as a wealthy planter, a shift from his usual one as a hapless person.
Arun Chalil’s breath-taking frames of the beautiful Western Ghats and the plantations give a good theatrical experience. Shamjith Mohammed’s editing is also good.
Music by Varun Krishna and Pranav Das are apt for the sequences.
O Baby is an intense dark thriller that discusses pertinent issues revolving around the backward class and the privileged ones.
(Views expressed are personal.)