Otta review: Resul Pookutty’s emotional drama is complemented by Asif Ali and Arjun Ashokan’s splendid performances

'Otta' talks about serious issues like toxic parenting, child abuse, and how employees are treated by their employers in cities.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published:Oct 27, 2023

A poster of the film Otta
An intense emotional drama!

Otta (Malayalam)

  • Cast: Asif Ali, Indrajith, Arjun Ashokan, Sathyaraj , and Rohini Molleti
  • Director: Resul Pookutty
  • Producer: Hariharan Subramanyam
  • Music: M Jayachandran
  • Runtime: 2 hours 28 minutes

Otta (One) marks Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty’s directorial debut movie. It revolves around characters who fight against the odds to become successful.

It is not the usual kind of film but is filled with emotional scenes — from the beginning till the end.

Instead of taking an easy path by making a film that goes with the current trend in the Malayalam industry, Resul has chosen to give details on all the scenes.

Otta has a complex plot which deals with serious issues.


The film deals with toxic parenting and showcases how it affects Hariharan (Asif Ali) and Ben (Arjun Ashokan), both friends and residents of Palakkad.

Hariharan, the son of Iyer (Sathyaraj) and Uma (Rohini Molleti), feels lonely at home because of his strict father.

Ben is unhappy because his parents get separated. He lives with his mom Dr Mary (Bhavana Ramanna), who is always harsh on him due to her ego against her ex-husband.

Unable to face the ill-treatment, Hariharan and Ben decide to elope. As they leave, what is left for them in their platter? Do they succeed in life or fail? — form the crux of Otta.

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A turning point

On the sets of Otta

On the sets of the film ‘Otta’. (X)

Resul Pookutty introduces many characters in the movie to give an essence of what he is trying to communicate.

The flashback scenes invest the time in developing the characters.

The first half focuses on the issues that Ben and Hariharan face in their hometown. The second half portrays the obstacles they face in Chennai.

Raju (Indrajith Sukumaran) enters the picture in Chennai. At one point, Ben leaves Hariharan, which becomes a turning point in their lives.

Though Ben faces several problems at his workplace, he initially doesn’t care about them. However, as he starts retaliating, things get worse for him.

Ben is more emotionally devastated than Hariharan. Hari tries to cool down his emotions but in vain.

Resul Pookutty adopts a raw filmmaking style, especially in the emotional and romantic scenes between homosexuals and brutal rape scenes (usually showcased in web series). He deserves applause for taking a daring step.

But the common audience, who has a penchant for commercial potboilers, may not be impressed with this.

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Family drama

Rohini Molleti in Otta

Rohini Molleti in ‘Otta’. (Supplied)

Otta, written by Kiran Prabhakaran, is inspired by S Hariharan’s book “Runaway Children“.

As mentioned earlier, family bonding plays a key role in the film. However, some of the subplots could have been trimmed.

The emotional connection Hariharan and Ben share with their families and the rebellious nature of the duo are two major aspects of the story.

Hariharan’s parents are orthodox. Scenes that establish their conservative beliefs could have been trimmed.

Iyer, a local banker, becomes a philanthropist by setting up an old-age home at the end. Later, his son also gets motivated and returns.

The movie talks about serious issues like toxic parenting, child abuse, and how employees are treated by their employers in metro cities.

Also Read: Rohini Molleti — the happening mother of South cinema


Various characters of Otta

Various characters of Otta’. (Supplied)

Intense performances by Asif Ali and Arjun Ashokan are the takeaways of Otta. Both the young actors have nailed it in these respective scenes.

Indrajith, as Raju, is good.

Rohini Molleti is impressive as Hariharan’s mother and a helpless lady in a patriarchal society.

Bhavana Ramanna, as Mary Thomas, could have toned down her expressions since Malayalam films are no longer melodramatic as earlier.

Tamil actor Sathyaraj as Iyer is okayish but not exceptional since there is an overdose of expressions like in Tamil films.

The sound mixing is at its best. The scenes in the railway station and other areas have come out very well.

The cinematography by Arun Varma is good. He beautifully captures the villages in Palakkad, Chennai city, the slums, and even Mumbai.

The music by Zian Sreekanth and M Jayachandran does justice to the plot.


Otta is an emotional film with an intense plot directed by Resul Pookutty. It has exceptional performances by Asif Ali and Arjun Ashokan. It is certainly a safe debut for the Oscar Award winner.

(Views expressed here are personal.)