There are so many things director Thomas Sebastian and writer Dhyan Sreenivasan could have done with Goodalochana. The screenplay could have been crunched down to make a solid short. Alternatively, one element in the plot – the one involving an understanding of true art – could have been developed separately into a full-fledged feature. Or, the jokes in the film could have been extracted and turned into a stand-up comedy routine delivered by Aju Varghese, Hareesh Perumanna and Vishnu Govindan on stage.
So many things other than what they have done.
Goodalochana is about four men friends from disparate backgrounds in Kozhikode who dream of earning money and conjure up silly schemes to do so, instead of focusing on having stable careers. Varun – played by Dhyan Sreenivasan, actor-writer-director Vineeth Sreenivasan’s brother making his writing debut here – has a strained relationship with his father (Alencier Ley Lopez) who runs a tea shop on a beach. Prakashan (Aju Varghese) is a painter. The group is rounded off by Jamsheer (Perumanna) and Ajaz (Sreenath Bhasi). Midway through the narrative the quartet becomes a quintet when they acquire a new permanent member called Sharaf (Vishnu Govindan).
The problem with Goodalochana is that it does not know where to begin or where to end, and once it sets off, it lacks focus. The film is bereft of originality in story and storytelling style, wanders all over the place and is steeped in a sense of déjà vu.
The been-there-seen-that feel kicks in from the very start with inspirations seeming to range from this year’s Angamaly Diaries to the scores of boy bonding flicks Malayalam cinema has made in recent years. Female bonding flicks are still rare in Indian cinema, but male dosti (friendship) has been done to death worldwide, and Mollywood in particular has for long been fixated on unemployed young men hanging out together. Unless you have something new to say in this arena then, or something old to say in a new way, why bother?
Kozhikode is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but after a while, even spectacular aerial shots of an arterial road and surrounding greenery cannot lift Goodalochana out of its aimlessness. The only reason why the film is not a 100% write-off is because Messrs Varghese, Perumanna and Govindan can be trusted to elevate even an ordinary tale with their comic timing. Some of the dialogue writing is infused with comedy, and these three men in particular get the best out of those lines. Niranjana Anoop, playing Varun’s girlfriend Fida, though is wasted in a role so marginal that it is clear it was thrown in because a female ‘love interest’ is seen as essential to a formulaic hero’s completeness.
The only woman of standalone worth in Goodalochana, with an identity independent of the men, is an art gallerist played by Mamta Mohandas. She – looking lovely, by the way – headlines an episode that provides us with more insights into the lead quartet’s minds than the entire rest of the film put together.
Without her and the humour, Goodalochana would have been a zero.