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O Baby review: Dileesh Pothan-starrer is a supremely engaging drama-thriller about subservience and oppression

Dileesh Pothan’s O.Baby is an intense and atmospheric movie through and through


Last Updated: 05.30 PM, Jun 11, 2023


Story: Baby works as an estate supervisor for Papi, the estate owner and the conservative patriarch of the family. After Baby’s son Basil and Papi’s great-granddaughter Mini get close, citing the differences in their caste, Papi asks Baby to kill his son. How Baby and members of Papi’s family go to great lengths – one to keep his son safe and others to protect their family’s honour – form the plot.

Review: It’s surprising how much lack of promotions and star power in a movie actually accentuates its content, when it’s superior. Director-scriptwriter Ranjan Pramod’s drama-thriller O.Baby is the perfect example of this.

Dileesh Pothan in O Baby
Dileesh Pothan in O Baby

The movie, which is filled with newcomers or relatively lesser-known actors except for Dileesh Pothan, is an intense and atmospheric movie through and through. It wouldn’t be too far to say that O.Baby would even serve as a companion piece to Dileesh’s own directorial Joji, but what makes this even more enjoyable is that Ranjan has infused it with a flavour fit for a commercial movie and theatrical watch, all the while not sacrificing its storytelling or content.

Right from its first few sequences, where a Christian family forces their unwilling young daughter to get engaged to ensure the wedding happens before the patriarch, Papi, passes away, there’s a palpable sense of tension in the air throughout. This only slackens, in a good way, when the movie focuses on Baby and his family. Baby and his forefathers, though from a caste that Papi and his family consider inferior, have been working for the latter, who are migrants to their land. Over the years, this has established a sense of fierce subservience, something that is delightfully challenged by his 18-year-old son Basil.

Things get complicated for Baby when Papi is informed by his granddaughter and her husband – out of selfish motives – that Basil is in love with his great granddaughter Mini. Stuck in his feudal, archaic ways, Papi orders Baby to kill Basil. What happens next make up for the pulsating second half of the film, which takes the audience through the high-ranges of Kerala, into the archaic and oppressive mindsets of people – all the while making them think through the words of its younger characters. The film’s score by Lijin Bambino along with Arun Chalil’s immersive cinematography makes it even more engaging.


Unlike some recent movies such as Joji and Appan, Ranjan’s O.Baby doesn’t leave it entirely to the audience to figure out the layers of oppression. He makes it clear through dialogues and scenes, about the perils of oppression that trickles down through generations, further shackling the subservient. This is shown through Baby’s submissiveness towards Papi and his relatives, and his interactions with the estate workers. Even a dog gets to play an important role in defining a shade of this master-slave relationship.

The film is also laced with quirks – showing the generational difference between its characters in terms of their mindsets as well as language. O.Baby never sticks to the stereotype, it shows that Internet and with it knowledge is all pervading; it doesn’t limit itself only to the rich or the so-called upper castes, who in fact are most times victims of ignorance for not staying up with the times. You even have an antagonist, a brilliant Vishnu Agasthya, who is a hunter from Zimbabwe and out prowling the forests on his all-terrain vehicle.

A huge reason O. Baby works is also because of its casting. Dileesh Pothan, in his best role yet, displays his acting chops with a character that has to go through an array of emotions. Haniya Nafisa as Mini and Devadath as Basil are finds of the season. Gopalakrishnan, Saji Soman and Dr Shinu Shyamalan, all do their bit to keep the audience interested in what’s happening next.

If you had to pick a grouse, post the climax, the film does let the steam off, with a predictable sequence. But this too showcases another layer of how people understand others’ plight when they face the same predicament.

Verdict: Director Ranjan Pramod’s O.Baby is a thoroughly engaging drama-thriller that asks pertinent questions about social oppression and also help bridge that generation gap a bit.

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