Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam(Malayalam, NeeStream)
Rating: ** ½
Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam Review: One shot, 85 minutes, a squabbling couple driving down to a pregnancy clinic to ascertain whether she is in the family way.
In Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam, The family certainly doesn’t get in the way of this couple as they battle it out hurling accusations and insults at each other during a road journey that threatens to tear down their relationship, until you fear he will crash the car while she screams at him for no reason. ‘He’ being Jithin played by Jithin Puthenchery, she being Maria played by Rima Kallingal.
As far as I can see, in Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam, this couple is heading for a ferocious breakup. Or at least that’s how their scuffle seems scripted, although it may not really be so. I hear the actors improvised a lot of lines and considering they drive together(while driving one another nuts) for 85 minutes there must have been a lot of impromptu insults hurled at one another.
Conceiving new ways of insulting one another on journey that seems to go on forever couldn’t be easy. Why did the pick a clinic on the other end of town? Did they actually want this time together to bicker bitterly? Do they actually get it of on mutual insults? Looks like it.
He calls her a litter bug. She says he stinks as he doesn’t bathe for three days at a stretch.
Ouch! As I watched this new avatar of Richard Burton-Liz Taylor in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolf(imagine if the pair were asked to bicker for 85 minutes in one shot while the director went off to attend to more important chores) or nearer home, Rajesh Khanna–Sharmila Tagore in Aavishkar, I wondered why these two are together at all.
She is a certifiable bully and borderline abuser. He is docile and has obviously allowed her to get away with her screaming bouts way too often without reminding her that raising your voice doesn’t make you right. I don’t know much writer-director Don Palathara allowed the pair to have their own say.
But the improvisations in their dialogues are not concealed from the camera. The verbal duel in Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam at times seems to be straining to stay afloat. At other times the insults just fly in the car , free-floating in space between roof and seat like stale confetti at a party long gone phut.
Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam revels in its own innovativeness. The lead pair holds fort to the best of its abilities. Somewhere in the long tedious journey the verbiage begins to get to you. That’s when the director himself makes an appearance, not in person but as a voice of a director being interviewed on the phone by Maria.
Yes ,she is an entertainment journalist. Which explains her aggression, though not her insistence on abusing her boyfriend for getting her pregnant.
Pregnant pauses are not what we get here, though. The casually stylish Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam is daunting in its format and verbiage . Miraculously it doesn’t seem gimmicky, although it probably is, because of the actors who have gotten into the 85-minute spat so well-rehearsed that it doesn’t seem rehearsed at all.