Idiot Movie Review: The joke is on us

A bland, lazily-written comedy that fails to entertain
Idiot stars Shiva and Nikki Galrani in the lead roles
Idiot stars Shiva and Nikki Galrani in the lead roles

What is easier made than consumed? If you guessed Upma, my heart goes out to you. I think the answer is Tamil horror-comedies! The genre in a way has its similarities with the widely dreaded dish, including a bland taste and urgent preparation.

Director: Rambhala
Cast: Shiva, Nikki Galrani, Redin Kingsly, Anandraj, Urvashi

Idiot, the newest entry into the horror-comedy league, doesn't take itself seriously. One might wonder if it is a good sign for a comedy, but the problem here is that the film doesn't take its audience seriously as well. I understand the intention of the Lollu Sabha creator Rambhala is to deliver a 'a-joke-a-minute experience', but the effort and thought behind that celebrated show is missing here. For instance, Shiva, who suffers from mental illness, looks at a dolled up Nikki and asks, "Neenga use panra powder bleaching powder dhana?" In another scene, Redin squeezes into the back of a car and says, "Lorry kula yeriten!" These unfunny attempts are just the tip of the iceberg. Rambhala bombards us with such thoughtless scenes set in the psychiatry ward, making us wonder if we ought to look for a therapist ourselves.

Though Idiot has several ideas that propel the screenplay, it doesn't have a cohesive plot. While making 'daring' moves like this, a filmmaker must ensure that the randomness on-screen amounts to some kind of fun or thrill, but here, only the team of Idiot seems to be having a great time unlike us.

Shiva is an actor who has carved a unique style for himself in deadpan comedy. His jokes usually land when he doesn't try too hard. But here, the occasional laughter vanishes once he becomes an asylum inmate and tries to 'act'.  On the other hand, we just feel sad for the female actors, Nikki and Akshara. They feel so out of place in the haphazard narrative and it feels like they are equally uninterested in the proceedings like us.

Representation of asylums has forever been an issue in our cinema. We either portray them as fun circuses or cruel torture chambers; they are nowhere in between. Rambhala opts for the former and in an attempt to do so, he portrays most of his characters with mental illness as perverts cracking double entendres. Things hit a new low when one of the male inmates dresses up in a dhavani and does horrible dance moves to a song. Scenes like these are highly insulting to both the LGBTQIA+ community and people suffering from mental illness.

It is a common sight in our country to see people protesting against films when they have their doubts. We saw a group of Christians suing Mani Ratnam for Kadal, Rajputs objecting to Padmaavat and Muslims requesting a ban on Vishwaroopam. It is quite unsettling how these films, which got the representation right, went through so much turmoil while a film that hints at calling people with mental illness 'idiots', stays happily out of problems.

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