Unnam, directed by Siby Malayil, the veteran who was once known as the torch-bearer of meaningful cinema, is an adaptation of the Hindi film Johnny Gaddaar, a thriller that achieved cult status. The highly versatile and dependable cast consists of Lal, Nedumudi Venu, Sreenivasan Prashanth Narayan, Asif Ali and Rima Kallingal.
The plot hinges on a bunch of semi-retired criminals who come together and agree to be partners in one last crime that has the potential to change their fortunes. But one of them tries to cheat the others and keep the whole booty for himself.
Unlike in a conventional suspense thriller where the identity of the culprit is kept under wraps till the end, here we are shown the betrayer upfront. It then becomes a game of survival for the cheat and we are supposed to be kept on the edge of our seats wondering if the cheat will get away with it.
The original, Johnny Gaddaar, was an overly stylised film, but it managed to hold viewers' attention
by giving hints and clues about twists in the plot.
Scriptwriter Swathi Bhaskar takes the plot from Johnny Gaddaar and brings it to Fort Kochi (even dialogue is picked up from the original), supposedly the crime capital of Kerala, where drugs, prostitution, gambling, smuggling etc are freely carried out. But there is no fleshing out of the characters or padding up of the plot.
The end result is that most of the actors seem to be sleepwalking through their parts. Lal as Sunny, a veteran of the Mumbai underworld now leading a retired life in the serene climes of Kerala, is the only thing that is working here.
Nedumudi Venu as the dim-witted Murukan, who is addicted to a pack of cards and runs a gambling den, tries very hard to be funny.
Asif, as a lowly singer in a bar tries to repeat his psycho act in Apoorvaragam, but without much success.
One expected Sreenivasan's entry to give a fillip to the proceedings half way through the film, but that too was too much to ask for.
On the whole, one can safely say that Siby Malayil's Unnam (aim) is disappointingly off target.