Adoor Gopalakrishnan's "Oru Pennum Randaanum" is a compilation of four separate short stories, written by prominent Malayali writer Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai. The film has been set in the 1940s and it succeeds in taking the viewer to those times, which we all know about from the history books, old movies and of course, from the anecdotes of those who lived then.
The stories have been titled "Kallante Makan", "Niyavum Neethiyum", "Oru Koottukaran" and "Pankiyamma". The anguish of a young kid, who has to bear the brunt of living as the son of a robber (M.R. Gopakumar), is the theme of Kallante Makan. Niyamavum Neeyathium zooms in on an old police station where two corrupt constables (played by Nedumudi Venu and Jagannathan) finds some easy ways to solve certain cases.
"Oru Koottukaran" says the story of a lawyer (Jagadeesh) who is trying to help his friend (Sudheesh), a student to get rid of his secret lover's unwanted pregnancy. "Pankiyamma" narrates the story of a young, beautiful woman who has some men dancing to her tunes, fighting each other for her love. Her middle-aged husband (Ravi Vallathol), is besotted with the ample charms of Pankiyamma (Praveena) and she loves him as well. But at the same time, Pankiyamma has a secret lover (Manoj K. Jayan), who also believes that she loves him the most.
One of the highlights of Oru Pennum Randaanum is that Adoor narrates the stories, which handles complex emotions, in a simple way. It works perfectly well without the characteristic slow pace, silence or the overtone of philosophy. The actors have come up with fine some performances and the director has used mainstream actors including comedians in an intelligent manner.
Of all the performances, perhaps it is Praveena, who stands out with a stellar performance. She has performed the complex character of Pankiyamma with an amazing finesse and confidence. During these times when female characters are often limited to the kind where they have to look pretty and dance to the tunes of the hero, her character is remarkably strong.
M.J. Radhakrishnan's camera work has done wonders, while the music by Issac Thomas suits the mood of the film quite well. Adoor Gopalakrishnan has always been known to maintain high standards in technical aspects, like sounds and costumes for instance, which is very evident in the film.
The four stories are independent in nature and have only been related by its genre, crime. Oru Pennum Randaanum is certainly a genuine attempt that takes new-age Malayalam cinema to a different level. Watch it to appreciate the sincerity that has gone into its making! On the ratings scale, four out of five.