Take a Hollywood rom-com’s screenplay. Adapt the dialogues to Malayalam. Also add some horrendous, meaningless lines in English. Make Huma Qureshi and our very own Mammootty share super-awkward chemistry across London skylines, subways and breweries. Voila, you get Uday Ananthan’s inconsequentially-titled White!
The director must have addressed a basic question – What do I want to achieve from this film, apart from marking my feature film debut? A love story set in London doesn’t give you the liberty to go the Serendipity route or try be the Woody ‘Malayali’ Allen. We call it Indianization but it isn’t just about sprinkling elements from our patriarchal society. White has an ambitious, independent and successful young woman (Roshni Menon essayed by Huma Qureshi) severely intimidated by a mystery man whom she weirdly pursues. The man is Mammootty, in the most routine billionaire name ever – Prakash Roy. Neither is he a Greek God looker nor his actions are credible enough to make a large enough impact on her psyche. He is brash, rude, insensitive and a bad stalker. So, bad old men too are a thing for 20-something girls, eh? Moreover, he flaunts a variety annoyingly terrible one-liners in English despite being settled in the UK for eons. Now that’s some kind of Indianness. The screenplay seems to be heavily overwrought in amateur hands as the writer shows seems to have no vision even in connecting two sequences. There are random characters popping out of nowhere to give our female protagonist (and us) life lessons.
There are frames where it’s hard to spot Huma Qureshi behind layers of makeup, false eyelashes and garish lip colours. In others, Mammootty is busy trumpeting his prowess on bed and elsewhere. What does the director do to spare time? One is to navigate London’s not-so-pretty locations with his bored cinematographer. Then, to make strange coincidences in the script that doesn’t strike a single chord with anyone concerned. Or else, make our lovely, voluptuous leading lady adorn a Kerala saree, gajra and parade busy London streets looking for a perspective! Moments we wish we were out hunting for the same.