From inspiring political ideas to acts that bolster his noble intent, this Bobby-Sanjay script seems intent on presenting a model chief minister, without any blemishes. That is also where the film falters because it almost becomes unbelievable.
The Malayalam film industry has set the benchmark high when it comes to political dramas. From Lal Salaam to the more recent attempts such as Left Right Left and Vellimoonga, political stories have worked because they have connected well with the Malayali populace. Director Santosh Viswanath’s One stands out in that regard – its ‘ideal’ protagonist is seeking to pass the Right to Recall Bill, which allows citizens to replace elected representatives before their term ends if they are found incapable. But here the only problem is everything appears too easy, even when Chandran and his aides face roadblocks at various junctures.
While the Chief Minister’s character throughout the movie is presented in a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ mould, the story evolves through the other characters, mainly a family comprising an elder man (Salim Kumar) who works in a restaurant and his son Sanal (Mathew George), a college student, and daughter Seena (Gayathri Arun), who works as a parking assistant at a mall.
The movie begins after Sanal’s social media post criticising the Chief Minister goes viral. The opposition leaders use this as an opportunity to attack the indubitable CM further, but only for the latter to clarify and emerge as a hero again (Think Kiefer Sutherland’s accidental US President from Designated Survivor, but only more charming and confident). The incident, however, forges a bond between Sanal and Chandran, and how the latter with the help of Sanal seeks to pass the Right to Recall Bill, amid defiance from those in his party and opposition, is what the film is about.
Director Santosh Viswanath’s One marks the first time that Mammootty plays the role of Kerala Chief Minister, and the megastar lends a larger-than-life figure to this role. From inspiring political ideas to acts that bolster his noble intent, this Bobby-Sanjay script seems intent on presenting a model chief minister, without any blemishes. That is also where the film falters because it almost becomes unbelievable.
The script does leave room for scenes by showing common man’s problems, which somehow once again become grounds for glorifying the CM. The writers do try to make Chandran human by giving him a humble background as a barber’s son who has toiled for 37 years to reach where he is and also a sequence where he suffers memory loss, which by the way is soon ‘forgotten’.
Murali Gopi as the conniving opposition leader Jayanandhan is a treat to watch in his scenes, which are limited though. In one particular scene, where he breaks his dour character to coax members from the rival party is memorable. Joju George as party secretary Baby and Chandran’s closest friend brings a grounded charm to his character. The movie also has a host of veteran and young actors including Nimisha Sajayan, Sudev Nair, Karamana Sudheer, Alencier Ley and Jagadish in minor roles that add to the overall pleasant feel of this movie.
One had the potential to take on a relevant theme and present its various arguments and the struggle to realise it. But it barely scratches the surface and ends up as a preachy drama in a peachy setting that serves as a forgettable entertainer.