STORY: A newly-appointed Thrissur collector takes up the task of cleaning up the city of its shortcomings and rallying people for a noble cause, by bringing back a dirt bike grand prix. The race serves as a platform to settle old scores and unearth new heroes for those in Diwanjimoola.
REVIEW: Right from its start, director Anil Radhakrishnan Menon's latest film Diwanjimoola Grand Prix makes it clear that it tunnels into a story about a group of people and their interests in a place called Diwanjimoola in Thrissur. Without any ado, the audience is planted straight in a gallery along with its residents as they anxiously gear up for the start of a dirt bike racing tournament.
Using multiple characters in the gallery, the director unfolds the plot taking the audience back and forth to what led to the grand prix and its importance. A starting point is the entry of newly-appointed collector Sajan Joseph IAS (Kunchacko Boban) who takes up the task of setting his city in order. Some of his challenges are uniting its residents especially those in the wards where gang wars are prevalent, allocating funds for a mental hospital and pacifying the residents when his higher-ups call for a ban on crackers in Thrissurpooram. As a solution to these, he proposes bringing back the Diwanjimoola Grand Prix, which was once the pride of the place.
Along the way, we are introduced to several eclectic characters - Jithender (Siddique), a quadriplegic and former bike racer, his daughter and ward member Effymol (Nyla Usha), a deaf and mute youth Sattan (Rahul Rajasekharan) and his gang comprising wayward youth. The collector's proposal to restart the dirt bike tournament, gives them all a common purpose. How the group strive to achieve their goal despite the hurdles completes the plot.
The first half of the movie, scripted by Anil and Prashant Nair IAS, takes its time establishing the characters. However, it doesn't justify that as by the second half some of the characters are hardly relevant to what happens and even the friendly appearances used to narrate the story take the focus away from the plot. In fact, those introduced in the latter half - such as mechanic Davis (Nedumudi Venu) and a race coach-turned-preacher Varghese (Vinayakan) - are more entertaining and fuels the movie forward.
The film has its laugh-out-loud moments, with Vinayakan, Siddique and newcomer Rajiv, who ably plays Sattan's friend in the film. Effymol is probably Nyla's best role yet with the actress acing the Thrissur accent and lending credibility to the character's go-getter attitude. Siddique ups his game as a quadriplegic in the film while debutant Rahul too emotes well to connect with the audience without words. Kunchacko Boban, Rajeev Pillai and Sijoy Varghese do justice to their parts.
The finish though is predictable but Alex J Pulickal's frames in the final race once again put the audience bang in the centre of the track, to sustain the thrill. Anil has opted for a much lighter tone for his latest outing compared to his previous films and the satire has its heart in right place - discussing issues of false promises by politicians, youth without purpose, neglecting the travails of the voiceless and significance of culture. However, it tries to highlight too much without really thrusting on any. That would have packed some power to the film.