Lailaa O Lailaa didn’t claim to be funny. It’s got a whole crew of undercover agents working for the NIA (National Investigation Agency) in Bengaluru. Now, even if they don’t look it, the team is always in their mini office—a questionable space that looks like a café just vacated and made space for them—with headphones and other such gears, trying to do something to a dozen odd screens that keep flickering. And oh, before I forget, they crack passwords too, the inevitable in a spy movie.
And they fight terrorists. And terror attacks. And to spice things up to an extent that it became unpalatable, director Joshiy also hinted on the NIA protecting an ex-US President. Like we already don’t have enough Hollywood supplies of the 'most powerful man on the planet' being always in danger and always rescued. Despite making an attempt to sound serious, the script sort of does a somersault and ends up being hilarious.
And talking of somersaults, those are the things directors should rethink making the actor do (or pretend to do), when it’s Mohanlal playing the sleuth—give this fine actor something more credible than jumping through loops, and he’ll clinch it with characteristic charm. That was largely missed in Lailaa O Lailaa.
A quick look into the story.
Undercover agents are not allowed to reveal their identity. Not even to their wives. Jai Mohan (Mohanlal) marries an unassuming rich girl, Anjali Menon (Amala Paul). His second marriage; the first one broke off owing to his agent-life colliding with his marital life.
Anjali, until the movie breaks for interval, remains unassuming. She has a fixation with cooking and calls her husband while he’s interrogating a terrorist to ask him whether he’d like ‘baingan bharta’ (Brinjal curry). It’s not that funny, really.
Post break, she is also let into the secret (we saw that coming) with much aplomb. (Someone said something about this being a secret mission, but so what, we can make exceptions!) What we didn’t see coming is how she is asked to join the team! Well why not; if you could sing and dance, you could be an agent as well, and not the other way round here.
Then there is Rahul Dev as Victor Rana, the terrorist who was caught in an encounter, is closed up in a cell and gets tickled for information every once in a while. He has, as his accomplice, the lovely Laila (Kainaat Arora), an aspiring film actress. What she actually does in the movie is shrouded in half-baked mystery.
Joy Mathew, the staple character lurking in the corners of most Malayalam movies today, appears here as Anjali’s grunting and morose father, who doesn’t take to Jai Mohan. Funny how most people belittle his job (an export executive, which is the façade), when he is actually driving a BMW. What’s there to complain really?
And the special addition is Satyaraj, who is the boss of the team in Bengaluru, who keeps harping on national security. His job is to approve just about anything Jai Mohan says -- “We need a DNA test to confirm it’s him that is dead” “Oh really? Alright then!” And also to make a euphemism out of the term ‘undercover’ when Jai Mohan gets married.
And to know how complicated and funny the plot gets, you have to watch the flick. Mohanlal looks uncomfortable, to the say the least, in the movie. It’s not his day, not his movie. Amala Paul tries to savour what is left in terms of clichéd representations of women, and succeeds.
The fight sequences look arduous, but then again, it’s clichés piled on more clichés. A recent spoof movie in Malayalam was bang on when it came to exposing such overstated scenarios in Malayalam cinema. Lailaa O Lailaa is just too full of it.
“The biggest risk of my life, my wife,” reads the tag line. It’s hard not to say that a little less focus on rhyming and a lot more on making up a credible screenplay would have been appreciable.
PS: There is the return of the famed 'Malappuram Kathi' (from nadodikattu) towards the end, and how!